Extend Appropriate Adult scheme to those under 21

The new Appropriate Adult scheme for young suspects under the age of 16 is a right step towards providing support to adolescents in police investigations ("Volunteers to offer minors support in police interviews"; Jan 7).

Perhaps the authorities could consider enhancing the scheme to cover people up to the age of 21.

In Singapore, the legal age for voting is 21, as most people are considered mature enough to make a considered judgment at that age.

By this reasoning, those below that age do not possess adequate mental or emotional maturity to handle a police investigation.

Hence, an appropriate adult would be helpful in facilitating communication between them and the police.

The Ministry of Education has also announced that measures will be implemented to support students who are called to the police station for interviews ("School officer to accompany students to meet police"; Jan 11).

What skills and training have teachers and school counsellors received to better equip them to manage young suspects while accompanying them to the police station?

Will these measures be implemented in our Institute of Technical Education and polytechnics?

After all, the ages of students enrolled in these institutes of higher learning may overlap with those of students in junior colleges, and they may require similar support.

Lastly, it was noted that school counsellors and parents are not allowed to accompany the young suspects during police questioning, as they may not be neutral.

I hope that the Ministry of Home Affairs or the police will provide clarification on the qualities of a "neutral party", and who is considered non-neutral.

This will improve transparency and understanding in police procedures, especially when they involve young suspects who tend to be vulnerable and need support from familiar people.

Timothy Toh Hong Ern

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2017, with the headline 'Extend Appropriate Adult scheme to those under 21'. Print Edition | Subscribe