Northumbria Local Appropriate Adult Scheme

Volunteer as someone's appropriate adult in police custody, stationed in Northumbria Police, when you join our Local Appropriate Adult Scheme. Gain valuable experience alongside your studying and enhance your future job prospects within the criminal justice sector.

A student writing notes in a lecture

What is the Northumbria Local Appropriate Adult Scheme?

The Northumbria Local Appropriate Adult Scheme (NLAAS) is the first of its kind in England and allows students from the University of Sunderland to volunteer as an appropriate adult alongside their studying. The scheme was founded by our Criminology academic team in a bid to address a shortage of appropriate adults in the region and offer students a unique volunteering opportunity with the police.

Volunteers are trained under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) and provide a whole host of support, from giving explanations of the custody process to helping people understand their rights and entitlements. With the overall aim being to provide 24/7 on-call coverage across four custody suites to support adults with vulnerabilities, if you join the scheme, you will develop a foundational understanding that will assist you within your role.

We're also able to offer the opportunity of a placement module, and we'll work with you to identify your placement needs and support you in developing within this fantastic role.

A student's hand writing in a book

What is an appropriate adult?

In alignment with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, someone in police custody who has been identified as a vulnerable person will require a trained appropriate adult to ensure their fair treatment – offering assistance, advice and emotional support. This can include respecting a person's rights and entitlements, and ensuring a person is able to participate and understand the procedures relating to the investigation

If you decide to volunteer as an appropriate adult, you will be trained to become an active participant within this process and work within a team of volunteers to provide coverage to local stations. You will need to familiarise yourself with what the duties and responsibilities of the role entail, before completing your training to develop your skills and knowledge to work within the criminal justice sector. Find out more about what it means to be an appropriate adult.

Students listening in a classroom

What are the benefits of volunteering as an appropriate adult?

Joining the scheme and volunteering as an appropriate adult is not only a brilliant way to enhance your CV and your future job prospects, but an opportunity to gain experience within different roles and sectors to see what career could be right for you. You will gain a set of valuable professional skills in communication, liaising, and many more.

You will be trained in alignment with the national standards which have been developed by the National Appropriate Adult Network and approved by the ADASS, Youth Justice Board, and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

When you become a volunteer, you'll also have the chance to complete an accredited qualification which offers a number of benefits, including official recognition of your knowledge, an opportunity for self-development, and enhancement of status. Nationally recognised qualifications will ensure you're even more valued by potential future employers.

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How can I apply?

Once you've enrolled onto your chosen course, you will see the scheme being advertised. Volunteering with the Northumbria Appropriate Adult Scheme is available across the School of Social Sciences, but if you're studying outside of these courses you may still be considered for the scheme, depending on your degree.

We recruit new volunteers at various intervals throughout the year, and we're looking for students who are interested in kickstarting their career in the criminal justice sector, with a particular interest in supporting vulnerable people. When you join, we'll train you and work with you to support your development, and in return, we're looking for people who are eager to learn.

Meet the team

The Northumbria Local Appropriate Adult Scheme is unique, as all of our volunteers are students here at the University. You will work alongside fellow students and scheme management, and be a part of the scheme's direction and future opportunities. The NLASS team are also proud members of the National Appropriate Adult Network.

To find out more information, please get in touch with Sarah Connelly (Scheme Manager) or Lauren Naisby (Scheme Coordinator).