The prevalence of mental health needs and/or learning disabilities is higher amongst the adult offender population than in the general population. The police have a duty to secure an independent Appropriate Adult to safeguard the welfare and legal rights of vulnerable adults in custody, but are impeded by a lack of reliable provision. This leaves vulnerable adults in custody at risk. Appropriate Adult services in England are provided by a mix of subcontracted private or third sector organisations and local authority social services. There is no statutory duty for any agency to supply Appropriate Adults for vulnerable adults in custody, and although adult social care has commonly funded such services, there is evidence that funding may be being retrenched . Recent developments in health and social care policy will increase the need for adult social care to strengthen local partnerships with health and criminal justice agencies and provide appropriate support to vulnerable adults in custody.
The proposed study will evidence the role that adult social care currently plays in the provision of Appropriate Adults, provide example models of good practice, and determine what service users and a wider range of potential funders would expect from an ‘effective’ service.