Published: 05 July 2022
Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether there are adequate safeguards in place when the police interview young suspects; and (b) whether the Ministry can provide an update on the review of the Appropriate Adult Scheme for Young Suspects (AAYS).
Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Social and Family Development:
1. Police interview suspects to find out what happened. It is not unusual that some suspects may be less than forthcoming during interviews. Interviewers have to assess the situation, and decide on the questions to be asked.
2. It is accepted that young suspects may require more support during interviews.
3. Thus, as far as possible, Police will interview young suspects in a Police station, away from their school or place of employment. Should interviews need to be conducted at schools or places of employment, Police will avoid drawing unnecessary attention or causing embarrassment to the young suspect. For instance, Police may appear in plainclothes and use unmarked vehicles.
4. Young suspects are interviewed by the Police in the presence of an independent and trained volunteer under the Appropriate Adult Scheme for Young Suspects, otherwise known as AAYS.
5. The current age threshold of AAYS is 16 years old. Thus, AAs, meaning Appropriate Adults, will be activated for all suspects under the age of 16.
6. From April 2023, we will be increasing the age threshold to include 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds, and will target to complete the expansion by Oct 2023. This can only be done when the number of Appropriate Adults volunteers is increased, and we are now working to build up the Appropriate Adults volunteer pool.
7. Police will notify parents on the arrest and investigation of young suspects at the earliest time possible, unless doing so could jeopardise investigations.