No excuse for five-week lapse by police: Shanmugam
The police went to Mr Liew Mun Leong's house five weeks after he and his son made a police report against their former maid Parti Liyani.
Minister for Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam told Parliament yesterday that there can be "no excuse for this lapse on the part of the police officer".
"It is a breach of a legal requirement, it is also a breach of police protocol, both of which require the police to respond to a crime scene promptly, or as soon as practicable," he said.
The officer will face disciplinary proceedings and the supervisor a disciplinary inquiry, Mr Shanmugam said in his replies to Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai yesterday.
The police's delay in visiting the crime scene was one of the reasons cited in the High Court's decision in September to acquit Ms Parti of stealing from her employers.
Justice Chan Seng Onn, who heard the appeal, noted a break in the chain of custody of the items that were reported stolen. Ms Parti had packed them into three boxes after she was sacked on Oct 28, 2016.
She went home to Indonesia that night after Mr Liew's son, Karl, agreed to send the boxes to her. The Liews said they found items belonging to them when they opened the boxes the next day.
As the boxes might have been interfered with during the five-week lapse, it could not be proven that Ms Liyani had taken the items that were eventually documented by the police, Justice Chan said.
Mr Shanmugam said the officer had to deal with ongoing prosecutions, arrest operations and personal matters.
"He seems to have been under a lot of pressure. He was in a predicament. It was a situation that many Home Team officers find themselves in. It's a reality of what our officers go through," he added.
Citing how some 1,100 investigation officers (IO) had handled about 66,200 criminal cases in 2016, Mr Shanmugam said he has called for a review of the workload on police IOs.
He added that the Attorney-General's Chambers has also identified some areas it can improve on, and is developing guidelines on the valuation of items allegedly stolen.
In this case, the prosecutors had relied on the Liew family's estimated value of the items, which is the general practice.
During the trial, Mr Karl Liew claimed a damaged Gerald Genta watch was valued at $25,000 despite being faulty. The value was eventually reduced to $10,000.
Mr Shanmugam said: "Independent assessment on the value of the items may have helped in respect of some of the items in this case."