Rethink handling of elderly suspects

While few would dispute that the police followed standard procedures in Madam Josephine Savarimuthu's case (Senior in custody: 'Procedures followed'; March 16), I wonder if those procedures are still relevant, especially to older folk.

Singapore has a rapidly ageing population.

With more people living longer, crimes or misdeeds committed by the elderly will also increase.

It does not help that many of the elderly are also suffering from dementia. These seniors may steal or commit crimes without fully realising the consequences of their actions.

Our Government has already acknowledged the extent of this problem, and many town councils are actively educating sales staff and retailers to recognise dementia sufferers.

It may be timely for the police and Attorney-General's Chambers to relook how they handle elderly suspects, who could be sick, immobile, in pain or suffering from dementia.

Handcuffs must be used only in extreme cases. Consideration must be given to the ability of the elderly person to outrun the officers or to harm them at close range.

In cases where family members can prove that the accused is suffering from dementia, a decision must be made to do away with the need to bring him to the police station for further questioning.

In short, there must be a fresh approach to the handling of elderly suspects.

Lee Huan Chiang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2017, with the headline 'Rethink handling of elderly suspects'. Print Edition | Subscribe