MOE on Benjamin Lim’s case and procedures for students under police investigation

On 26 January, 14-year-old Benjamin Lim Jun Hui jumped to his death from outside his 14th-floor HDB flat. Earlier that day, he was held under custody by the police for 3 and a half hours at Ang Mo Kio Police Division for the molestation of a girl on 25 January.

In response to questions about the police protocol that was followed in handling Benjamin, Acting Minister for Education, Ng Chee Meng gave a statement yesterday, detailing an 8-step procedure police and staff are to follow that is “not new to our schools”.

  1. School staff will be discreet when bringing the student to meet with the police. They will ensure that no undue attention is drawn to the student.
  2. School leaders will ascertain the student’s physical and emotional well-being before letting the police speak to the student. School leaders will also request that the number of police officers speaking to the student be kept to a minimum.
  3. School staff will request to be present if an initial interview is to be conducted at the school.
  4. Should the police decide to bring the student to a police station for further questioning, the school will request that the police contact one of the student’s parents to inform them the situation and location the student will be brought to. The school will also ensure that the student has something to eat if hungry.
  5. The school will request the student not be handcuffed and be escorted to the police vehicle discreetly. However, the police retain final decision to use handcuffs depending on circumstances.
  6. After the student is released by police, school staff will be in contact with parents of the student to provide support and plan follow-up steps to ensure the well-being of the student.
  7. When the student returns to school, the school will monitor the well-being of the student.
  8. The school will ensure the confidentiality of the student’s identity and the on-going police investigations.

Mr Ng noted that this procedure had been followed in Benjamin’s case but that it would be updated when needed, possibly including “the presence of a school staff as an appropriate adult at the police station”.

It is stated by the Minister of Home Affairs and Law, Mr K Shanmugam and Mr Ng that Benjamin was not accompanied by parents nor school staff when he was taken by plain clothes police officers from North View Secondary School. He was also unaccompanied when interviewed by a police officer as it is disallowed by existing police protocol.