In trouble with the law…

Story by Andrew Green

Ten year old Ajay was terrified: arrested late at night on a serious allegation of assault and put in a cell, he told police he didn’t want a solicitor. His mother didn’t speak English, so I was called out to help him. It was my first time as an appropriate adult.

When someone aged under 17 is arrested, she or he can only be interviewed if an appropriate adult is present, to ensure their rights are respected and they are treated well. Usually a parent comes along, but if no parent or relative can, or won’t come, or if they are unsuitable (perhaps they are a witness), then in Sheffield the police call out a volunteer from the scheme run by SOVA (Supporting Others through Volunteer Action).

I asked Ajay if he knew what a solicitor was. “No,” he said, so I explained. The duty solicitor came, and Ajay was released without charge.

…and again

Louise, 15, had been asleep in bed when her mum phoned. She was drunk, and needed Louise to help her home. As they walked back home, a police car pulled up. “You two little girls ought to be at home in bed,” the officer said. This provoked a response from Louise which lacked politeness. Interviewed later, it was put to her that she had threatened to kick the officer in the balls. “No, I wouldn’t have said that,” answered Louise, “’cause he hasn’t got any.”

Somehow all these young people turned out likeable, and easy to get on with once they realised I respected them. They trusted me. Kevin was arrested for shoplifting; why was he doing it? I wondered. Eventually I discovered he desperately wanted to talk to someone who could help him, because he was being abused by his father. Shop lifting was his bid for attention, and through the SOVA scheme I put him in touch with the help he needed.

Burngreave provides more SOVA volunteers than other areas of Sheffield. Perhaps we just like to help young people in trouble.

For more details on volunteering with SOVA, please see their advert: Could you be an appropriate adult?

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The content on this page was added to the website by Jamie Marriott on 2015-08-20 17:50:32.
The content of the page was last modified by Jamie Marriott on 2016-10-25 15:19:29.

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