Appropriate Adult Training (Under PACE Act)
The Role of the Appropriate Adult.
Last year I began to watch the ITV drama “The Appropriate Adult” based on the true story of the person brought in to act as appropriate adult(AA) for the serial killer Fred West. I was unable to watch it all the way through because I found the actions of the person so annoying that I was yelling at the TV and was subsequently banished from the living room so the rest of the family could watch in peace!
It was my concern that many of the people, the hundreds of people that I have trained over the years to act as AA and many of the people I was yet to train, would believe that the way the character in the programme behaved may have been correct.
To some extent my fears were realised. A question that now crops up in every training session I undertake is about the client (detained person)/appropriate adult confidentiality privilege that the TV programme implied to exist. The fact that this issue is always raised is, I suppose, helpful because it ensures that the course delegates now check with their employers as to whether or not they have a policy to cover any disclosures made by the detained person. The downside is that most do not have the policy and this leads to many frantic phone calls from employers, desperate to put policies in place for their staff undertaking the AA role.
When creating teams of AAs for Youth Offending Teams whilst in local government employment, I always made it crystal clear that the workers undertaking the role on behalf of the Local Authority had to clarify their role to the detained person before doing anything else and that the YOT would not collude with any attempt to pervert the course of justice. It was also to be made clear to the detained person that should they disclose their involvement in an offence to the AA and then deny it to the Police, then the AA’s position would be professionally compromised and they would have to cease acting for that person. I also made it clear that the Police would realise why the AA’s position was compromised and would then interview the AA as a witness and their statement could well be used as prosecution evidence.
When acting as AA for family and loved ones, how an individual deals with such situations is between them and their conscience, however if undertaking the role for an agency in a professional capacity, it is vital that the agency gives very clear guidance to their representatives as to how they are expected to behave if, and when, they are put in such a position.
Had the AA in that drama clarified her role clearly from the outset, she would not have found herself vilified as she was, I could have watched the entire programme without resorting to blood pressure medication and everybody other than myself and a few other sad pedants would have found it to have been a boring and uneventful programme.
You can’t please all the people all the time………….
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