SINGAPORE - Students who need to go to a police station from school will be accompanied by a school officer familiar to them, such as a teacher, school counsellor, or the year head.
Education Minister (School) Ng Chee Meng on Tuesday updated the House on what the Ministry of Education (MOE) is doing to support students who are being investigated by the police.
The measures, which follow recommendations made by a multi-agency review committee, will kick in next month in all primary and secondary schools and junior colleges.
The committee had been set up after the death of North View Secondary School student Benjamin Lim on Jan 26 last year. He was found dead at the foot of the Yishun block where he lived, hours after being questioned at Ang Mo Kio Police Division for allegedly molesting an 11-year-old girl in a lift.
His death sparked a review of protocols, and the Ministry of Home Affairs last week announced the launch of an Appropriate Adult Scheme, where young suspects will be accompanied by independent, trained volunteers during police interviews.
Mr Ng said that school officers will make sure “there will be a proper handover” as far as possible.
“If there is no appropriate adult present, the school counsellor will have to make a judgment call to stay with the young person until such an adult shows up,” he said.
He added that whether the school officer will remain at the police station throughout the interview will depend on the circumstances at the time.
He also said that teachers and year heads are trained to look out for signs of distress in students, while the school counsellors get more in-depth training in mental health awareness.
Non-constituency MP Daniel Goh asked if the school counsellor could accompany the student throughout the police interview instead.
To that, Mr Ng said the school counsellor would be known to the students, and would not be considered a neutral party.
Correction note: An earlier version of the story stated that teachers, year heads and school counsellors will receive training to spot signs of distress in students. The Ministry of Education has clarified that this is not a new measure and is part of their regular training.