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Appropriate adultsupporting vulnerable people in police interviews

What is an Appropriate Adult?

Appropriate Adults are volunteers who provide independent and impartial support to young people and vulnerable adults when in detention and during Law Enforcement interviews. An Appropriate Adult may also be asked to support a vulnerable person during court proceedings.  

The detainee could be under 18 or someone who, because of their mental state or capacity, may not understand the significance of what is said, or the questions asked, or who may need assistance to ensure their response is understood.

This might include people with learning difficulties, disabilities or people presenting with mental health problems.  


What does an Appropriate Adult do?

The role of an Appropriate Adult is to:

  • support, advise and assist the detained person, particularly during questioning
  • observe whether Law Enforcement officers are acting properly, fairly and with respect for the rights of the detained person and to tell these authorities if they are not
  • assist with communication between the detained person and Law Enforcement
  • ensure the detained person has a full understanding of their rights

How do you get appointed?

Applications to become an Appropriate Adult can be made at any time.

You will need to attend an introductory session, fill a form, undertake a Basic Disclosure check and take part in training.

If you are suitable for the role you will be added to the callout list and contacted when needed.

What skills do you need?

You’ll need tact, sensitivity and the ability to communicate with a wide range of individuals.

The role would suit those driven by a sense of justice, fairness and human rights.

A background in social work, nursing, or working with vulnerable adults or children would be helpful but is not a requirement.

Knowledge of the criminal justice system is desirable but not essential.

What support or training is there?

You will be invited to a one-day information and training day and training materials are available online.

This is a ‘learn on the job’ role because it’s not possible to shadow experienced volunteers. But you can contact other Appropriate Adults and also the Scheme Manager for advice and support.

What's the time commitment?

Time commitment

You will be part of a pool of volunteers who can be contacted when a young person or vulnerable adult needs support during their detention in custody, including for interview or other procedures. You may also be asked to support a person through a court process.

It’s really up to you how many callouts you attend and whether you opt in to be on the court rota. Your personal time commitment will vary depending on whether you are available when an Appropriate Adult is needed.

On average, a volunteer will attend a call-out twice a month. This might mean spending several hours at the police station at short notice, it really depends on the circumstances of the case and your availability.

If you agree to support someone through court processes, that could take a morning, a day, or several days for a serious matter or for a trial.

Do you get paid?

There is no salary, it is a voluntary role to assist your community.

Reasonable expenses will be reimbursed.

Rewards and downsides


You will ensure the most vulnerable members of our community are treated with respect and understand what is happening to them.

You will be working as part of a team to safeguard the criminal justice process.


There’s a lot of waiting around.

The custody suite and interview rooms are not the most comfortable environment.

Where can I find out more?

More information

Go to

To register your interest or apply, email

Application form


Being an Appropriate Adult (note: this video is about the Leeds scheme but Guernsey’s is similar).

There are more videos from the National Appropriate Adult Network here:

Download this page

To turn all of this information about being an Appropriate Adult into a PDF, click the ‘download info as PDF’ button at the bottom of this page.
This description of the role of Appropriate Adult has been researched by Women in Public Life volunteers.  If you spot an error, or have a question, please do let us know by emailing

Download info as PDF

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Guernsey’s iconic women of the future?

Thank you for nominating a young woman or girl for our future iconic Guernsey women campaign to celebrate International Women’s Day!

Nominations close on Sunday 6 March at 17.00.

Please fill in the details below.


Miriam Makeba - South Africa

Nominated by: Christine James

Zenzile Miriam Makeba (1932 to 2008), nicknamed Mama Africa, was a South African singer, songwriter, actress, United Nations goodwill ambassador, and civil rights activist. Associated with musical genres including Afropop, jazz, and world music, she was an advocate against apartheid and white-minority government in South Africa. In 2020 she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 women of the century. 

South Africa is ranked 12th in the world for percentage of women in national parliament: 45.8% (source: 

Are you from South Africa? Please email if there is a social or cultural group for people from South Africa in Guernsey.

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The original image “The Hague Jazz 2008 – Miriam Makeba” by Haags Uitburo is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. 


Jacinda Ardern - New Zealand

Nominated by: Martin Lock

Jacinda Ardern (born 1980) has served as prime minister of New Zealand and leader of the Labour Party since 2017. In 2019, she led the country through the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque shootings, rapidly introducing strict gun laws in response, and throughout 2020 she directed the country’s widely praised response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ardern was the world’s second elected head of government to give birth in office when her daughter was born in 2018. ‘An inspiring Prime Minister who brought a nation together with true leadership, empathy and compassion.’

New Zealand is ranked 4th in the world for percentage of women in national parliament: 48.3% (source: 

Other iconic women: Dame Whina Cooper, nominated by Claire Fisher, and Kate Sheppard, nominated by Anna Cooper.

Are you from New Zealand? You may be interested in joining the ANZACs in Guernsey Facebook group

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