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Appropriate adult

What is an appropriate adult?

This is a person who sits in on a police interview with a child or young person who is under 17. Their role is to ensure the interview is conducted fairly and properly, to facilitate communication between the young person and interviewer and to ensure that the young person’s welfare is catered for.

In the case of young people the appropriate adult is usually the parent/carer. When the parent cannot, or will not be there, Staffordshire Youth Offending Service can act as the appropriate adult.

What's the law?

Under the Crime and Disorder Act (1998), a protocol has been drawn up between Staffordshire County Council and Staffordshire Police setting out the arrangements for the provision of an appropriate adult. The protocol relates to the role of:

As defined by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, Code of Practice C, Children or Young People under the age of 17 can not be detained in a police station for interview without the presence of an 'appropriate adult'.

In most cases an appropriate adult would be the parent, guardian or carer of the child or young person.

If any of the above are unable to attend the police station or cannot be an appropriate adult for other reasons, the police can make a referral to the Youth Offending Service during day time hours.

If an appropriate adult is required after 5.00pm on Saturdays or Sundays the Emergency Duty Team will be there to help you.

What do they do?

The role of the appropriate adult is to safeguard the interests of the child or young person detained or questioned by police officers. They are not there to offer legal advice as this is the role of a solicitor or legal representative. In essence the appropriate adult is to advise, support and assist.

If an appropriate adult is asked to be present when a young person is to be interviewed by the police their main purpose will be to:

  • Advise the child or young person to be interviewed.
  • Observe whether the interview is being conducted properly and fairly.
  • Facilitate communication with the child or young person being interviewed.


Under the Children Act 2004 the police, local authority youth offending teams and appropriate adults have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people and this applies equally to when they are in police detention.

Further information

Please see the National Appropriate Adult Network pages.

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