Why did Fred West need an appropriate adult?
17th March 2021

FRED West, along with his wife, was collectively responsible for the murder of 12 young women, before being arrested by police.

Despite his heinous crimes, West was not allowed to speak to police alone and had to have an appropriate adult present during his 400 hours of questioning.

Why did Fred West need an appropriate adult?

Fred West required an appropriate adult due to his inability to read or write.

West left school at the age of 15 which resulted in him remaining largely illiterate.

In police interviews, when suspects are given documents they need to be able to fully understand what they are being shown.

Combined with the severity of the charges made against him, police deemed it necessary for West to have someone supporting him through the interrogation process.

For police, having an appropriate adult present at West's interviews was important to show that he hasn't been coerced into a confession and had fully participated in the interview process.

Janet was called by Gloucester police in 1994, asking her to act as an appropriate adult for West.

Janet was in charge of coaxing West through police interviewing. She tried to teach him to read and write.

What is an appropriate adult?

In English law, the police are supposed to appoint an appropriate adult when children and vulnerable people are suspected of committing a crime.

This is to reduce the risk of a vulnerable suspect being led into an unsound confession by the police. 

Appropriate adults are meant to "support, advise and assist their clients".

Usually, an appropriate adult is a parent, guardian or social worker.

The job is voluntary and unpaid, with no qualifications specified by law.

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