Expanded support service for vulnerable adults is huge success
RESPONSE times to help vulnerable adults in need of communication support during police investigations have been cut.
Victims, witnesses, suspects and accused people who suffer from ‘mental disorders’ are being supported by the Appropriate Adult Service through the police interview process.
Although the service has always been available to people in Argyll and Bute, it was previously provided by Dumbarton. However, it has now been set up in the region and is managed from Oban, cutting the response time from six hours to one across the area.
The national service provides people with conditions such as learning disabilities, mental health illness and dementia the support of an independent person to ensure they are not disadvantaged by their condition, ensuring the process is fair and understood. The locally provided service also allows interviews to be concluded in a more timely manner for the individual and the police.
The move means that appropri- ate adults, who would have originally travelled from Glasgow, are now trained and based in Argyll.
Carr Gomm, a charity which helps individuals and communities, has partnered with Police Scotland, the local social work department and the health service to create the initiative. The Appropriate Adult Service now has six staff based in Mid Argyll, six in Oban and three are in Campbeltown.
Christine Nicol is the service manager based in Oban and is overseeing the initiative for Argyll and Bute. She said: ‘Previously, the nearest Appropriate Adult for Argyll and Bute was based in Dumbarton and it was proving difficult to get an appropriate adult to a police interview within a reasonable time scale.
‘The service has been a positive experience for all involved and I think that it has been such a success because of the support from our partners. We have good communication between one another and have regular meetings to monitor the development of the service.
‘In the past response has taken up to six hours. Since we started, in June 2015, an appropriate adult can respond within an hour.
‘And having people based around Argyll means that if we don’t have someone available in the specific locality required, police and the service users will still not wait as long as they could have done in the past. This service is accessible and responsive 24 hours per day.
‘Being based locally has made a real difference to the service and we have seen an expected increase in the number of referrals and have been able to support more people. Having people who know the area and have the relevant skills and experience has been making a big difference.’