Vol­un­teers help in 590 cases

The New Paper - - NEWS - HARIZ BAHARUDIN

Sup­port scheme for young sus­pects turns one to­day

She con­ducted the in­ter­view with one of the 408 Ap­pro­pri­ate Adults (AAs) present, and As­sis­tant Su­per­in­ten­dent (ASP) S. Aiswarya man­aged to coax the girl who had been caught for shoplift­ing twice to con­fide in her.

Speak­ing at the Po­lice Can­ton­ment Com­plex yes­ter­day, ASP Aiswarya, 25, re­counted last year’s in­ter­view with the 15-year-old: “The rea­son why she was do­ing this was be­cause she did not want to be a bur­den to her par­ents and ask them for money.

“So we know this is the im­pe­tus to­wards com­mit­ting the of­fence, and we find out a bit more about the prob­lems she’s fac­ing.”

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion of­fi­cer (IO) from Be­dok Po­lice Divi­sion had help from the AA, who had been trained un­der the Ap­pro­pri­ate Adult Scheme for Young Sus­pects (AAYS).

The AAYS is one-year-old to­day.

The po­lice told The New Pa­per there are 408 AAs who have gone through the scheme, and they have been ac­ti­vated about 590 times over the last 12 months.

Un­der the scheme, trained vol­un­teers serve as AAs who ac­com­pany young sus­pects dur­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­ter­views, pro­vide emo­tional sup­port and aid com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the sus­pect and the IO.

The scheme is avail­able at the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Depart­ment, Be­dok Po­lice Divi­sion and the Cen­tral Nar­cotics Bu­reau’s In­ves­ti­ga­tion Divi­sion.

Start­ing from to­day, it will be rolled out at the Cen­tral, Cle­menti and Tan­glin Po­lice Di­vi­sions, as well as Sin­ga­pore Cus­toms and the Cor­rupt Prac­tices In­ves­ti­ga­tion Bu­reau.

The full roll-out is ex­pected to be com­pleted in mid-2019.

AA An­drew Chew, 58, has helped in eight cases so far, and he said his pres­ence can help young sus­pects through what could be stress­ful sit­u­a­tions.

Mr Chew, who is self-em­ployed, said the lan­guage used by po­lice of­fi­cers could be chal­leng­ing for young sus­pects to un­der­stand, and an AA – they range from 21 to 70 years of age – can help clar­ify ques­tions.

RE­CRUIT­MENT

The Sin­ga­pore Chil­dren’s So­ci­ety (SCS) ad­min­is­ters and man­ages the AAYS, and is re­spon­si­ble for re­cruit­ing, train­ing and de­ploy­ing AAs, who un­dergo a day-long train­ing ses­sion.

Cases are as­signed to AAs based on their ex­pe­ri­ence, gen­der, age and spo­ken lan­guages.

Ex­plain­ing the AAYS de­ploy­ment pro­ce­dure, an SCS spokesman said: “Vol­un­teers who meet the se­lec­tion cri­te­ria will re­ceive an ac­ti­va­tion SMS from us, and those who are avail­able will re­spond.

“We will se­lect and link the AA up with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of­fi­cer. Typ­i­cally, our AA will have 90 min­utes to ar­rive at the venue.”

ASP Aiswarya said young sus­pects are told the AA is not a po­lice of­fi­cer.

She said: “This puts the young sus­pect at ease so they know the po­lice are look­ing out for their emo­tional well-be­ing.

“This makes them more re­laxed and more forth­com­ing with in­for­ma­tion, es­pe­cially re­gard­ing prob­lems they are fac­ing and why they com­mit­ted the crime.”

harizbah@sph.com.sg

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