APCC Leads welcome national focus on support for vulnerable adults in custody
Responding to today’s publication of the Appropriate Adult Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) – Local Authority (LA) Partnership Agreement, APCC Mental Health Lead PCC Matthew Scott and APCC Custody Lead and ICVA Chair PCC Martyn Underhill said:
Police and Crime Commissioners have long been concerned to ensure stronger protections for people in police custody, and this need is particularly acute when it comes to safeguarding both the rights and welfare of vulnerable adults and children.
The voluntary Appropriate Adult PCC-LA Partnership Agreement published today signals an important recognition by HM Government of the gaps in existing provision that PCCs have highlighted.
The responsibility for providing appropriate adult services rightly rests with local authorities, with the support and engagement of key partners, however, PCCs can play an important role too by bringing these partners together and holding the system to account. PCCs are experienced in providing oversight and accountability, across policing, criminal justice and other public services. Our colleagues across England and Wales have worked hard seeking to establish collaborative approaches locally which can address these issues, and so any guidance to clarify roles and improve these partnerships is welcome.
We have been encouraged to see many of the concerns we have raised reflected in this framework. However, the real test of this approach will be whether it truly delivers for vulnerable adults on the ground. As the APCC Mental Health and Custody Leads, our focus over the next 12 months will be to support colleagues seeking to make this work, and looking at how this approach can be improved. To that end, at the offset, we have four key asks to improve the system:
- Firstly, for local authorities to be a named authority with clear statutory responsibility for the provision of appropriate adults for vulnerable adults, just as it is currently their responsibility to do so for children.
- Secondly, for PCCs to have a formal opportunity to engage with both the commissioning and performance monitoring of appropriate adult schemes, in line with the PCC role in providing oversight and accountability to policing and the criminal justice system.
- Thirdly, for minimum standards to be established and clearly communicated to local authorities, around the commissioning and delivery of appropriate adult schemes. Input from the health sector should form part of any standards.
- Finally, a public consultation on the current framework for appropriate adults provision should to be considered, subject to the results of the Home Office’s 12-month evaluation of this approach and the APCC’s own internal monitoring arrangements.
The voluntary Appropriate Adult PCC-Local Authority Partnership Agreement for England can be read here.