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Appropriate Adult

A responsible person aged 18 or over who supports children and vulnerable adults detained at the police station or being interviewed by the police.

All children should have an appropriate adult to support them if they are arrested and at a police station or are being interviewed by police.

An appropriate adult can be a parent, guardian, social worker, friend, relative or any responsible person over 18.1 In some areas there are volunteer appropriate adults who have received special training. A parent should not be an appropriate adult if they are the victim or a witness or involved in the investigation of the offence.2

The role of the appropriate adult is to give advice and assistance to children at the police station, to look after their welfare and ensure their rights are protected.3

An appropriate adult should be present when a child is

  • strip searched (a search involving the removal of more than outer clothing) or intimate searches
  • fingerprinted
  • photographed
  • providing a DNA sample
  • having any sample taken or having a footwear impression taken
  • taking part in any form of identification procedure
  • being tested for class A drugs, undergoing X-rays or ultrasound scans


Being strip searched, fingerprinted and providing a DNA sample can form part of ‘booking in procedure’ at a police station. Police officers must still ensure an appropriate adult is present.


  1. Code C, paragraph 1.7 Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984  (back)
  2. Code C, Guidance 1B Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984  (back)
  3. Code C, paragraph 3.18 Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984  (back)