1st September 2015

A recent Home Office report, published in August 2015, has reported that up to a quarter of a million vulnerable people are not being supported by an “appropriate adult” while in police custody.

The report, ‘There to Help’, highlighted that a lack of awareness and a shortage of trainees was leading to Police officers questioning adults with mental illness or learning disabilities without an appropriate adult.

Appropriate adults are there to assist with the rights and welfare of those in custody but they do not provide legal advice. Nonetheless they do have an important role to play in assisting a person in custody and can amongst other things request a solicitor attend the Police station on behalf of a person in police custody.

Analysis of Police data has taken place as part of the research and it was discovered that appropriate adults were used in about 45,000 of the 1.4m detentions and voluntary interviews of adults each year. It is estimated that 280,000 of those detentions in custody involves a person who is “mentally vulnerable”. This shows that a significant number of people in Police custody who should have an appropriate adult attend the Police station with them are not receiving such support.

The Home Office report has made several recommendations to improve the use of appropriate adults for those in custody who suffer from mental health problems or learning disabilities. The report recommends not least a national framework for the provision of appropriate adults, a statutory duty on police officers to secure one and improvements to police training and record keeping on vulnerable adults.

If you require an appropriate adult when in Police custody and the Police have failed to provide you with one you may have grounds to pursue a complaint against the Police.  It is important to note that if you intend to pursue a complaint it should normally be made within 12 months of the date of the incident concerned.  If a complaint is not made within this time period it is likely the police will refuse to investigate the matter further.

In addition to a complaint you may also have grounds to pursue a claim for compensation against the Police. Whether you have a claim or not will be highly dependent upon the specific circumstances of your case. If you believe you may have grounds to pursue a claim for compensation against the Police you should contact a solicitor specialising in the field of Actions against the Police to discuss whether you are able to pursue a claim.

We have a team who are experienced in Actions against the Police and if you wish to discuss a new enquiry please do not hesitate to contact our team on 0191 516 0466 or by email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk

Blog by Andrew Freckleton, Solicitor