‘We capture their comments before we leave the station’: Service User Involvement in the Delivery of Appropriate Adult Schemes



Service user participation, National Appropriate Adult Network, Appropriate Adult Schemes, ‘vulnerable’ adults, Children, Service User Involvement


The concept of participation is now widely accepted in healthcare and social services, but is less apparent in the delivery of services for vulnerable people who encounter the Criminal Justice System and its associated agencies (Buck et al, 2020).  This article considers the extent to which children and ‘vulnerable’ adults who have been detained in police custody are currently able to actively participate in the design and delivery of Appropriate Adult Schemes.  This paper draws together responses from 43 services in England and Wales concerning levels of service user engagement to ascertain the current level of participation, and to make recommendations for the future.  The paper applies Forbat, et al.'s (2009) models of service user involvement to conceptualise ideological drivers which underpin the Appropriate Adult Scheme's commitment to involvement.  The data reveal that while there is a genuine desire to improve service user participation, that institutional, financial, and attitudinal barriers mean that participation either does not occur or is at a very cursory level.

Author Biographies

Donna Peacock, University of Sunderland

Dr Donna Peacock is Associate Professor of Social Science at University of Sunderland.  Donna’s current research focuses on interactions between suspects who have been defined as ‘vulnerable’ and the police, particularly in custody settings.

Stephen J Macdonald, Durham University

Professor Stephen Macdonald is Professor of Social Work at Durham University. Stephen’s work applies theoretical perspectives that emerge from within Disability Studies to the study of Criminology and Adult Social Work.

Wendy Podd, University of Sunderland

Dr Wendy Podd is Senior Lecturer of Social Policy, and Programme Lead for BSc Sociology at University of Sunderland, her research interests include youth studies, regeneration and participation. Wendy is currently undertaking research into foodbanks.

Faye Cosgrove, University of Sunderland

Dr Faye Cosgrove is a visiting lecturer and research fellow of the University of Sunderland. Faye’s research to date has focused on police organisational structures and culture and intersections between vulnerability and policing.


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How to Cite

Peacock, D. ., Macdonald, S. J., Podd, W., & Cosgrove, F. (2023). ‘We capture their comments before we leave the station’: Service User Involvement in the Delivery of Appropriate Adult Schemes . Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 23(3). Retrieved from https://journals.whitingbirch.net/index.php/SWSSR/article/view/1655