The purpose of this consultation is to seek your views on plans to place existing, non-statutory, Appropriate Adult services on a statutory footing. A statutory service will help to ensure vulnerable people who come into contact with the justice system receive the same level of high quality support across Scotland.

We intend to use regulation-making powers in the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 (“the 2016 Act”) to establish a statutory service. Section 105 of the 2016 Act requires us to consult publically prior to laying such regulations.

Overview of the Appropriate Adult service in Scotland

The existing role of an Appropriate Adult is primarily to facilitate communication during police procedures between the police and vulnerable suspects, accused, victims, and witnesses (aged 16 or over) who have communication difficulties as a result of a mental disorder. The role of the Appropriate Adult does not include support for children under the age of 16. Support in these circumstances is provided by the child’s parent or guardian, or the local authority as appropriate.

At present, Appropriate Adult services in Scotland are delivered on a non-statutory basis. As a consequence, the way in which services are delivered varies across the country. In some areas they are provided by local authorities, whilst in others they are provided by Health/Social Care and Justice partnerships, or contracted out to third parties.

The Scottish Appropriate Adult Network ( SAAN) is a collective network comprising Appropriate Adult Co-ordinators from across Scotland, plus representatives from Police Scotland, Social Work Scotland, the Judicial Institute for Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Mental Welfare Commission and the NHS, with the Scottish Government participating as an observer. The Network meets on a quarterly basis and produces (and regularly reviews) national guidance and an annual report containing information on Appropriate Adult services across Scotland.

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