The need to safeguard vulnerable adults from the power of the justice system has been recognised for over 800 years. Since that time, many things have changed, including our understanding of mental health and other forms of mental vulnerability, but the core principle of equal justice for all remains the same.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the accompanying Code of Practice ensures that whenever a young person aged 17 or less, or an adult aged more than 17 who may be mentally disordered or mentally vulnerable is arrested and detained in a police station, she or he will be accompanied by an independent adult known as an Appropriate Adult. This procedure only relates to mentally disordered or vulnerable adults.
This procedure is in the process of being updated.