I have been a volunteer appropriate adult for 2 years. It is the saddest experience that I have ever had. I have spent hours sitting in custody suites chatting to detained juveniles.
The lives that they describe to me and that I hear described during interviews are devoid of all the things that children need in order to thrive and grow up to be happy, useful people. Often they live in financial poverty. Always they live in emotional and intellectual poverty. After all, nine times out of ten, the reason for my being their appropriate adult is because no-one in their family can be bothered to come to the police station. The lives they live are unbelievably dreadful. Sometimes when I leave the police station I sit in my car and weep.
I can hear some of you saying how pathetic it is to be crying over some hoodie. Given the lives that they are born into, it would be amazing if they were not juvenile offenders. Anger should be aimed at a society that makes these children what they are. The fact that the state provides them with a solicitor in the police station is the least that they deserve.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
An Inside View
Gavin has written about Appropriate Adults in Diary of a Criminal Solicitor. There is a comment from 'Caroline', who acts as a volunteer. (Appropriate Adults are brought in to police stations when the offender is young, or in the opinion of the Custody Sergeant is not necessarily capable of coping with proceedings. They can be social workers, family members, or volunteers. They do an essential job, in my view). This is what she says about the job:-