Acting as an Appropriate Adult for a child at the Police Station

Acting as an Appropriate Adult (AA)

An AA’s role is to support a child at the Police station and make sure they are treated fairly. AAs must be 18 or over but it cannot be someone from the Police or a solicitor who is attending in a professional capacity. The first choice should always be an adult who knows the young person– a parent or carer is always best where possible.

So, what happens next?

First of all, the child will be offered a solicitor and it is in their best interests to have one. You can insist on one being provided before the interview starts. We suggest

A solicitor should always be present in the interview.

You as the Appropriate Adult introduce yourself at the front desk. The officer will arrange for you to be taken to the Custody Suite (Cell Block)

Upon arrival at the cell block ask the Custody Sergeant if a solicitor has been provided.

You will be present when the child is read his/her rights which are:

  • To have someone informed of their arrest
  • To consult a solicitor
  • Get any medical help they may need
  • To consult the PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) codes of practice

If there is anything in the rights you don’t understand then do ask for it to be explained. If you have any complaints, ask to speak to the Custody Sergeant who will be able to help.

You will also be present if the child has to have their fingerprints/DNA and or photographs taken to make sure this is done fairly.

What you must do at the interview

The interview will be recorded, and at the start of the recording you will be asked to identify yourself for the record and state your role. For example:

I am (state your name) acting as Appropriate Adult for this child.

The child will be cautioned at the beginning of the interview, and it is important for you to check they understand what that means. We explain it to children like this:

You do not have to say anything – this means you don’t heave to reply to questions today if you don’t want to

But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned, something you later rely on at court – if later down the line you suddenly have an alibi and it wasn’t mentioned today people might wonder why you didn’t say anything about it

Anything you do say may be given in evidence – anything you tell the Police today can be used in Court if it might help to prove you are guilty

During the interview you are expected not just to observe, but to safeguard the rights of the child and to ensure that the interview is conducted fairly. For example, making sure the child understands the questions being asked, or asking for a break if the child is getting upset or frustrated.

You can interrupt the interview when you think it’s necessary to request clarification for the child or if you feel the interview is not being conducted fairly.

At the end of the interview a time will be given when the interview and recording ended.


Following the interview the Police may take one of the following actions:

  • No further action – nothing else will happen, although Police may refer the child into us for voluntary work. This is called the ‘Diversion’ project.
  • Bail the child to return to the police station on a certain time and date
  • Give the child a Community Resolution – this means the child will do some work with the Police for a few weeks but nothing else will happen
  • Referral to the Coventry Youth Justice Service for an Out of Court Disposal (OOCD) – this is us offering support instead of the child going to Court
  •  Charge and bail the child to attend Court. Police can attach conditions to the bail such as living at a certain address, or a curfew
  • Charge the child to Court on the same day – they will go there straight from the cells
  • f After talking to us about it the Police could refuse bail and charge the child to Court – if this happens the child usually stays overnight in a safe place to appear at Court on the following day (or on Monday if they are refused bail on a Saturday)

If a referral to YJS is the outcome a Youth Justice Officer will contact you soon to introduce themselves and arrange a time to meet you and your child.

Download and print the Acting as an Appropriate Adult for a Child at the Police Station leaflet.

Youth justice service logo

Youth Justice Service

Please use the entrance for Coventry City Council Customer Service in the Upper Precinct.

Address: Floor 2
Customer Service Centre
Upper Precinct
Coventry CV1 1FS

Telephone: 024 7683 1414