Law enforcement interviews is an intimidating and confusing experience for anyone, especially for children and young persons. They may feel vulnerable and distressed during the investigation process. To address the issues, the Appropriate Adult for Young Suspects (AAYS) aims to ensure the well-being of children and young persons during law enforcement interviews in the presence of a neutral third-party adult.
In April 2017, Singapore Children’s Society was appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs to be the service provider to pilot the AAYS scheme for young suspects (under the age of 16) undergoing police interview. It was then rolled out islandwide in 2019.
The neutral third-party adults in the AAYS scheme are largely fielded by volunteers called “Appropriate Adults”, otherwise known as “AA”. These AA are recruited and trained by the Society and activated when needed, even at short notice. The AA facilitates communication between the Investigation Officer (IO) and the young suspect, looks out for signs of emotional distress and provides emotional support to the young suspect when necessary. For example, when the CYP is going through distress, the AA could request the IO for a short break.
In doing so, they alleviate the young suspects’ distress level during the police interview. However, they do not provide legal advice.
Currently, the AAYS scheme is implementing the increased age threshold. This is being done in progressive phases, having started on 1 April 2023 to include those under the age of 17 and those under the age of 18 in October 2023. It is expected that there will be more requests for AA and thus, the AAYS scheme is recruiting volunteers to build up its Appropriate Adults volunteer pool to support older youth.
Children’s Society will be conducting the seventh round of AA volunteer recruitment in September 2023. Anyone above the age of 21 with the passion to support children and young persons can sign up to be a volunteer, subject to further screening. The AAYS is a 24-hour scheme, and activation can take place any time of the day. Trained AAs can choose to take up activation requests at their convenience. Information about the volunteer requirements and commitment level can be found below:
- Minimum of 21 years old*
- To aid communication between the IO and the young suspect during the police interview
- To observe the young suspect and note any emotional and mental health concerns, and provide support (if necessary) to ensure the well-being of the young suspect
- Attend the compulsory briefing session
- Attend a compulsory (full day) training session
- 1 year commitment (subject to annual renewal)
- Be committed to supporting at least four activations per year
*Current staff members of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and/or with any of its law enforcement agencies (e.g. SPF, CNB, ICA, etc) are unable to join as an AA volunteer due to a conflict of interest.
You can also read more about the experiences of an Appropriate Adult volunteer from the Channel News Asia and Straits Times articles published in 2022. If you are interested in registering as an Appropriate Adult volunteer, do click here. Otherwise, for further inquiries, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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