Published: 14 July 2015
Ms Chia Yong Yong: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs what is the protocol adopted in police investigations when the suspect can be suffering from disorders such as autism spectrum disorders or other psychological disorders, in order that an early assessment may be ordered prior to the suspect being charged in court so as to prevent a conviction prior to any such assessment especially in relation to young persons who can be suffering from such disorders.
1. Police have prescribed procedures to handle suspects with intellectual disabilities or mental disorders so that necessary assistance can be rendered to them 2 in the course of investigations.
2. Appropriate Adults Scheme (AAS in short) was introduced to assist vulnerable suspects, regardless of their age, with intellectual disabilities or mental disorders. The scheme was introduced progressively at Police Land Divisions since January 2015, and was fully implemented in May 2015. Under AAS, "Appropriate Adults" or support persons are provided to act as a bridge between Police and the vulnerable suspect to enable effective communication during Police's interviews. Similar schemes can be found in jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom and Australia.
3. The AAs are recruited and managed by the Law Society. At present, there are 136 AAs and they comprise volunteers from voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs), special education teachers, caregivers and grassroots leaders. As of end June 2015, there were 41 activations of the AAs.
4. In determining whether to activate the AA, Police will ask the suspect or his next-of-kin to disclose any previous treatment for intellectual disabilities or mental disorders. Police will also check if the suspect is registered with the Developmental Disability Registry (DDR) administered by the National Council of Social Services. In addition, for suspects who do not have known medical records and are not registered with the relevant agencies, Police will make an assessment based on whether the suspect displays behaviour indicative of intellectual disabilities or mental disorders.
5. Upon the completion of its investigations, Police will submit its findings, including the relevant medical reports, to the Attorney General's Chambers for its consideration. The Public Prosecutor has the final prosecutorial discretion on whether to charge the suspect in Court for each case.