Help for the vulnerable during police interviews

Sergeant Kevin Quirk; Kerry Bell, CIRCA centre manager; Inspector Paul Bryan; Paul Tangeman, Youth Justice Team office manager; Alison Nicholson, CIRCA centre assistant; Scott Wilson, Youth Justice Team

Sergeant Kevin Quirk; Kerry Bell, CIRCA centre manager; Inspector Paul Bryan; Paul Tangeman, Youth Justice Team office manager; Alison Nicholson, CIRCA centre assistant; Scott Wilson, Youth Justice Team

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An initiative is being launched to support young and vulnerable people during police interviews.

Under the ‘appropriate adult scheme’, the intention is to recruit and train a team of volunteers to provide help and guidance to people who are taken into police custody.

The focus is on assisting young offenders aged between 10 and 17 years and vulnerable adults, including those with mental health issues and learning difficulties.

The scheme will support the government’s national priority of protecting vulnerable members of the community and aims to achieve similar success to projects introduced in policing districts in the UK.

Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK said: ‘Fortunately, many young and vulnerable people have a parent or guardian they can call on if they are arrested. However, for those who don’t, the Appropriate Adult scheme will be a real lifeline. Police in the Isle of Man are dealing with an increasing number of vulnerable people, in particular those with mental health issues, and the support provided by trained volunteers will be extremely beneficial during the custody process.’

A drive is currently taking place to recruit community-spirited volunteers who are able to attend police interviews and act in the interests of young people and vulnerable adults. Duties will include ensuring procedures are followed and dealing with police officers and advocates.

The scheme is a partnership involving the Department of Home Affairs, the police, Youth Justice Team, Department of Health and Social Care and Douglas-based charity CIRCA, the Centre for Information Resource, Care and Assistance.

Kerry Bell, CIRCA centre manager, said: ‘Members of the public who volunteer will be provided with full training, as well as refresher courses and updates throughout the year.

‘Once they have all the skills they need, the volunteers will form part of a support network that may be called upon to help a young or vulnerable person as they are dealt with at a custody suite. This is an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the local community and I hope it will generate a lot of interest.’

Potential applicants should contact Kerry Bell, CIRCA, Level 2, Chester Street Car Park, Douglas, IM1 2PQ, tel: 613713 or email kerry.bell@circa.org.im

Those who register an interest in becoming an Appropriate Adult will be invited to a development day later this month where further information will be provided by representatives from the police, Youth Justice Team and mental health services.

Volunteers will be required to offer a one-year commitment to the scheme and to undertake full training and a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Training will include shadowing professionals and supervised visits to police custody suites.

The aim is to put in place a network of volunteers to provide support on a rota basis every day between the hours of 8am and 7pm.

Inspector Paul Bryan of the Youth Justice Team said: ‘This is a good example of Government Departments working in partnership with the voluntary sector to protect the rights and entitlements of vulnerable people. I would encourage anyone interested in volunteering to get in touch and find out how they can help.’

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