PACE Code C 2018
Vulnerable persons definition
Introducing a new definition of vulnerable – Code C 2018 1.13(c)
‘Vulnerable’ applies to any person who, because of a mental health condition or mental disorder
(i) may have difficulty understanding or communicating effectively about the full implications for them of any procedures and processes connected with:
- their arrest and detention; or (as the case may be)
- their voluntary attendance at a police station or their presence elsewhere,
for the purpose of a voluntary interview; and
- the exercise of their rights and entitlements.
(ii) does not appear to understand the significance of what they are told, of questions they are asked or of their replies;
(iii) appears to be particularly prone to:
- becoming confused and unclear about their position;
- providing unreliable, misleading or incriminating information without
knowing or wishing to do so;
- accepting or acting on suggestions from others without consciously
knowing or wishing to do so; or
- readily agreeing to suggestions or proposals without any protest or question.
A person may be vulnerable as a result of a having a mental health condition or mental disorder. Similarly, simply because an individual does not have, or is not known to have, any such condition or disorder, does not mean that they are not vulnerable for the purposes of this Code. It is therefore important that the custody officer in the case of a detained person or the officer investigating the offence in the case of a person who has not been arrested or detained, as appropriate, considers on a case by case basis, whether any of the factors described above might apply to the person in question. In doing so, the officer must take into account the particular circumstances of the individual and how the nature of the investigation might affect them and bear in mind that juveniles, by virtue of their age will always require an appropriate adult.
The Mental Health Act 1983 Code of Practice at page 26 describes the range of clinically recognised conditions which can fall within the meaning of mental disorder.