73-year-old woman allegedly shackled and treated harshly after arrest for town council related offence

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Handcuffs

A letter writer to the Straits Times forum page has complained about the manner in which her 73-year-old mother was treated when she went to make a police report. The letter writer, Gertrude Simon, said that her mother was arrested when she went to the Ang Mo Kio South Neighbourhood Police Centre to report about a lost pawn shop ticket. The woman had a warrant of arrest issued against her on a town council related matter. The warrant of arrest was issued in 2015.

No further details of the offence was provided to the elderly woman but she was detained in the police station and was transferred to the Changi Women’s Prison (CWP), after being produced at a State Court. The woman was locked-up in CWP over the weekend and bail was granted by the State Court only on 6 March.

The woman forgot the contact details of all her relatives because of the stress of the ordeal and the family members only got to know about her predicament after officers from the CWP contacted them. The family however was not allowed to visit the woman throughout the period she was detained.

The woman received her daily medication as she was detained in a medical ward, but the family took issue that the woman was treated harshly when the police moved her between the police station, CWP and the court.

“…when my mother was moved between the police station, CWP and the court, she was handcuffed and had leg restraints on. It is appalling that a weak old woman was subjected to such harsh treatment. Law enforcement officers must be empowered to exercise flexibility to handle such cases with empathy and more humane considerations.”

Gertrude who said that her mother remains traumatised by the incident asked the police and relevant government agencies to relook procedures for arresting elderly citizens. She suggested that when “elderly suspects are detained, factors like their age, health and mental state, along with the seriousness of the offence, need to be considered.”

“Their next-of-kin must be contacted; if necessary, the elderly person should be taken home to retrieve phone records,” she said. And added: “This would make it easier to make bail arrangements and avoid the need for him to be taken to prison.”

She ended her letter by saying, “I hope our pioneer generation members will not be subjected to such an ordeal in future.”