Published: 13 July 2015
Mr. Hri Kumar Nair: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs with regard to the incident at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on 20 June 2015 (a) what are the safety and security protocols when the Police escorts persons-in-custody in hospitals; (b) whether these protocols are followed in this case; and (c) arising from this incident, what changes, if any, will Police make to these protocols.
1. A Person-in-Custody, or PIC, who requires medical attention may be escorted out of secured Police facilities to a hospital for treatment. The Police have an established set of procedures to guard against the risk of PICs escaping while in hospital. These procedures are benchmarked against international best practices. For example, Police studied the PIC management system of the Victoria Police in Australia in 2006, and the UK Police in 2009 and 2011.
2. First, grip restraints are applied on a PIC who is being escorted for medical treatment at hospitals. Each set of grip restraints comprises two belts. One belt is placed around the PIC's waist, and has two wrist restraints which are used to lock the PIC's hands in position at the sides of his waist. The other belt has two ankle restraints which are fastened around the ankles of the PIC to restrict his movement. The grip restraints have been used by the Police since 2005 and are also used by the US Department of Homeland Security, and many correctional facilities and law enforcement agencies around the world.
3. Unless deemed necessary by the medical staff for medical examination or treatment, grip restraints cannot be removed from the PIC at any time. Where it is necessary to release the grip restraint at one wrist, the other arm unaffected by the medical treatment must be secured to an immovable fixture.
4. Second, a minimum of two police escort officers are required to be present at all times during the escort of the PIC. While on escort duty, the officers are not to let the PIC out of their sight at any time. The officers must be vigilant, and exercise situational awareness to minimise any opportunities for escape.
5. All frontline police officers are trained to escort PICs as part of their basic training, and required to take an annual test to maintain these basic police competencies. Officers also have to be trained in the use of grip restraints before they are allowed to use them on PICs.
6. I will now come to this specific case. I will present the facts as are currently known, in order not to prejudice the ongoing Police investigations, and the criminal case against Muhammad Iskandar Bin Sa'at (Iskandar), the PIC involved in the incident at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on 20 June 2015.
7. On 19 June 2015, one day before the incident, Iskandar had been arrested for motor vehicle theft, and was ordered by the Courts to be remanded for further investigations. On 20 June 2015, he complained of chest pains and was escorted by two Police officers to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to seek medical attention.
8. He was brought to one of the hospital's designated holding rooms for PICs which is not accessible to the public, for the medical examination. While in the room, he attacked one of the Police officers and attempted to escape. The Police officer tried to prevent the PIC from doing so. A struggle ensued during which the PIC grabbed the Police officer's revolver. Shots were fired from the officer's revolver. The PIC sustained superficial injuries while the Police officer suffered gunshot wounds to his left thumb and right foot. The PIC was subsequently subdued and the situation brought under control.
9. Police's preliminary investigations showed that the escort procedures, which were last reviewed by the Police in 2014, are generally sound. Nonetheless, in the light of this incident, the Police are doing ground audits to ensure that the escort procedures are being properly complied with.
10. Every escape or attempt to escape from custody is a very serious matter, as this could pose a threat to public safety. The Police's Internal Affairs Office (IAO) is conducting a thorough investigation into possible negligence of duty by the officers involved in escorting the PIC at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. The IAO will establish the full facts of what happened and how the incident was handled.
11. MHA has an independent review mechanism which the Minister can convene to look into cases of significance. This ensures that Home Team Departments' investigations into their officers' proper performance of duties are thorough and well-conducted. Given the seriousness of the incident, I am convening an Independent Review Panel to review the findings of Police's internal investigations. The criminal investigations into the unlawful discharge of firearms are also continuing. The findings from all these investigations will allow the Police to identify any shortcomings in compliance and also take corrective action to address gaps, if any, in the existing procedures.