Appropriate Adults

An Appropriate Adult acts independently from the Police to ensure that all processes necessary are conducted fairly and properly whilst a detained person is in custody.

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What Is An Appropriate Adult?

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) requires an appropriate adult present whenever a young person aged 10-17 or a vulnerable adult is being interviewed by the police. Most often this role is undertaken by the parent or carer. When the parent or carer is not present, Kent Police call for one of our volunteers.

Our volunteer appropriate adults dedicate over 10,000 hours each year, ensuring that the detained person understands their rights and entitlements whilst they are in custody and that the police follow the procedures laid down in the PACE code of practice.

Being a Volunteer Appropriate Adult

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An Appropriate Adult will:

facilitate communication between the police and the detained person

advise and assist the person being interviewed

observe whether or not the interview is being conducted fairly and properly

ensure the person understands their rights, entitlements and is safeguarded whilst in custody

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What volunteer support and training is there?

Volunteers will be warmly welcomed into the YLF team who truly value them and their time.

YLF delivers a thorough training course to all applicants to ensure its volunteers are fully equipped. YLF will provide:

  • training focused on core skills, safeguarding and role specifics
  • supervision to ensure skills are always to maximum impact
  • an open door policy with the invitation to visit us at our hubs at any time
  • invitations to social events so all volunteers have the chance to meet and share experiences
  • opportunities to support our charity in other ways such as participation in fundraising events
  • support towards additional training or courses to develop skills or careers

And lastly YLF reimburses all authorised expenses including mileage.

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Am I Suitable to Volunteer?

With a commitment of at least 6 months to the role and a genuine passion to improving the lives of young people and families, you are already suitable!

We require someone who can be a positive role model for young people, a champion of their needs, interests and aspirations and someone who can listen and offer encouragement.

There are some FAQ’s at the bottom of this page to help you further, or just call us to discuss any concerns you have.

What People Say

“Being an Appropriate Adult is a challenging, satisfying and worthwhile role and therefore if you have a little time to spare and you wanted to make a difference to the people of Kent then please apply to become a volunteer with the Young Lives Foundation.” Insp. Colin Piddock, Kent Police

“The ability to remain calm, apply common sense and above all retain a sense of humour are important for the role of Appropriate Adult.” Mike, volunteer appropriate adult

“One of the most vital skills is to be able to gain the confidence of people in a fairly quick time, advising that you are there for them and not the police, but you are not there to hinder the police in any way.” Jane, volunteer appropriate adult

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose and why are appropriate adults needed?


The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) requires that an appropriate adult shall be present when a juvenile (someone under 18) or vulnerable adult is being interviewed by the police. In most cases the appropriate adult will be somebody known to the detained person such as a relative or carer. However, there are times when these people are unable or unwilling to attend the custody suite, and in these cases the police will call on another independent, responsible adult.

What does an appropriate adult do?


The role of the appropriate adult is to:

  • Advise and assist the person being interviewed
  • Observe whether or not the interview is being conducted properly and fairly
  • Facilitate communication between the police and the person being interviewed

A report/monitoring form is completed in respect of each call-out and submitted to YLF as soon after the call-out as possible. Any points or issues of concern will then be followed up with the relevant agency and/or volunteer.

Matters requiring urgent attention (e.g. safeguarding concerns) should be reported as soon as possible to YLF.

What sort of people do appropriate adults help?


Appropriate adults are called to help young people under the age of 18 and adults whom the police feel are vulnerable. A vulnerable adult may have learning difficulties or have a mental health problem.

How much time is needed?


Volunteers are asked to cover an average of 8 occasions of use a month with an average call out taking 3-4 hours.

Appropriate adults are used between 08:30 and 22:00 (unless in exceptional circumstances) with most demand during the daytime.

The service operates around the volunteers availability. Volunteers will be asked to attend their nearest custody suites.

How much will it cost?


Nothing other than the volunteers time. All authorised expenses are reimbursed, including travel.

How do volunteers know what to do and not do?


All volunteers undertake full training comprising:

  • Seminars/briefing sessions on legislation, policy and practice
  • Study of PACE Codes of Practice
  • A period of shadowing an experienced volunteer
  • A period of attachment to an experienced volunteer in which the trainee takes the lead under supervision.

What help is there?


Volunteers receive a handbook that includes all they should need to know about being an Appropriate Adult.

Telephone back-up is available whilst you are at the police station. We are also available by email and phone to answer any queries volunteers might have at other times.

All volunteers receive supervision and if you require more support a one-to-one meeting in person can be arranged as well as support via phone and email as regularly as required.

In addition, there will be a number of informal social gatherings where volunteers can meet and share their experiences.

Do volunteers have a DBS check or any other background checks?


Yes. All volunteers are required to complete an enhanced DBS form; we also seek
a reference from their current employer and two others (whom you have known for over 5 years).

How do I apply?


You would need to complete and return an application, safeguarding and data protection form (there is also an optional equal opportunities form).

You can apply directly online here, or download these forms from our Resources page and send them by:

Email |

Post | YLF Volunteering, 71 College Road, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6SX

If you require hard copies, they are available upon request.

What Next?

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Apply to Volunteer

Apply online now to become an appropriate adult

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Volunteer Handbook

Read more about volunteering in our downloadable handbook

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Other Enquiries

Contact us with your volunteer enquiry here