Published: 21 April 2023
Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) in each year for the past five years for cases involving offenders with mental disabilities or young suspects, how many instances have there been where an Appropriate Adult was not present during law enforcement interviews; (b) how many more volunteers are necessary to ensure that all eligible cases will have at least an Appropriate Adult present; and (c) what will be done to increase the recruitment of volunteers for the Appropriate Adult Schemes for Young Suspects and for Persons with Mental Disabilities.
Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Social and Family Development:
1. Mr Speaker Sir, Appropriate Adults (AAs) are currently activated for all cases involving young suspects below 16 years old, and where the Investigation Officer assesses that the suspect is a person with mental disability. As I had announced in Parliament in July 2022, we are in the midst of implementing the increased age threshold for the Appropriate Adults Scheme for Young Suspects to include 16 and 17-year-olds. This will be done in phases and has started from 1 Apr 2023.
2. In the past five years, AAs have been successfully activated for all cases where the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) have requested for these AAs based on the activation criteria. That said, there may be extenuating circumstances which necessitate the LEAs to exercise discretion not to activate an AA for the interview. For example, urgent interviews may be required to prevent the disposal of evidence, detain accomplices still at large, or prevent the commission of another offence.
3. As of December 2022, there were 359 and 328 active volunteers for the Appropriate Adults Scheme for Young Suspects and Appropriate Adults Scheme for Persons with Mental Disabilities respectively. The service providers are the Singapore Children Society (SCS) and the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS). They are able to support all AA activation requests today.
4. SCS and MINDS publicise volunteering opportunities for AAs through social media channels and during their community outreach. The member may refer to media features in October 2022 for more information on the schemes and the volunteering experience.
5. Thank you.