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An urgent change in the law is needed to ensure all vulnerable people have access to appropriate adults in custody, a police and crime commissioner (PCC) has claimed.
Merseyside PCC Jane Kennedy is demanding that local authorities be given a statutory responsibility to provide vulnerable adults with support instead of just helping vulnerable children. Ms Kennedy has funded a two-year trial of an appropriate adult service in Merseyside but has again had to finance the scheme from reserves after failing to find a long-term solution.
Local authorities have a legal responsibility to ensure vulnerable children can access appropriate adults but face no such requirement for older people.
* Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and its Codes of Practice (PACE) set out the rules and safeguards for policing in England and Wales including role of the appropriate adult (AA). The principal intention was to reduce the risk of miscarriages of justice as a result of evidence being obtained from vulnerable suspects which, by virtue of their vulnerability, led to unsafe and unjust convictions.
For more information on Appropriate Adults see National Appropriate Adult Network (NAAN)