Perceptions and Experiences of the Appropriate Adult in Association with Autistic Self-Advocacy within the Scottish Criminal Justice System: Comparing the Perspectives of Autistic Adults, Investigating Officers and Appropriate Adults
Police Scotland’s Standard Operating Procedure (2019) states that when adults with mental disorders (including those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder) take part in investigative interviews, communication support in the form of appropriate adults must be provided. According to current policy, the decision whether an appropriate adult is required belongs to the investigating officer even if the interviewee has confirmed capacity. Neurodiversity and self-advocacy movements, particularly in association with ASD, aim to review and implement the views of the autistic community in policies that directly affect them, shifting the socially constructed perception of ASD from deficit to difference. In light of the proposal to make appropriate adult services statutory in Scotland, this study will use online questionnaires to explore the views of autistic adults, investigating officers and appropriate adults, regarding the support of appropriate adults in investigative interviews with autistic individuals. Emphasizing a procedural justice theory framework for police handling of engagements involving people with a mental health disorder, the study will consider the participants views on: the necessity of appropriate adults, who should undertake this role, who should make the decision for appropriate adults to be present, terminology associated with appropriate and vulnerable adults and finally, will review all participant’s understanding of ASD. Little research has focussed on the opinions of autistic adults within the criminal justice system and so the results will be key in establishing their overlooked viewpoints. This proposal aims to facilitate the work of the Scottish Strategy for Autism (2011) which envisages choice and independence for the autistic community and collaborate to raise acceptance and understanding of ASD not just in the Scottish criminal justice system but throughout society.