SINGAPORE: Persons with intellectual disabilities will get assistance during police interviews, if a pilot project over six months shows promising results.
The project will be carried out at Bedok Police Division over six months, starting April.
At a recruitment drive to recruit volunteers for the project called ’Appropriate Adults’, Attorney—General Steven Chong said it is vital that persons with intellectual disabilities receive proper assistance in order to communicate clearly with the police investigation officers.
’Appropriate Adults’ are those within the community with special skills to assist vulnerable persons. They include those trained in social work and psychology.
Mr Chong said the move comes after an inter—agency committee — involving the Ministry of Social and Family Development, National Council of Social Services, Criminal Practice Committee of the Law Society of Singapore and Association of Criminal Lawyers — was established to look into two areas.
The first, whether police investigation officers were able to adequately identify persons with intellectual or mental disabilities, and if there was sufficient assistance provided to those with intellectual disabilities.
He said the Committee found there was no screening tool to assist the police in identifying persons with such disabilities.
To this end, the Hayes Ability Screening Index (HASI) was identified as a suitable tool to be administered by the police.
This, after the HASI was applied on almost 200 participants comprising accused persons, inmates and probationers.
The results showed HASI correctly identified persons with intellectual disabilities almost 70 per cent of the time, and correctly excluded persons without such disabilities 82 per cent of the time.
The HASI was developed by Susan Hayes, an Australian forensic psychologist.
On the second area, Mr Chong said the concept of providing assistance to persons with intellectual disabilities is not new, and has been used in countries like England and Wales.
This assistance will be provided for both the accused and witnesses.
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