KUALA LUMPUR: Police have introduced new standard operating procedures (SOP) to handle persons with autism following the case of Ahmad Ziqri Morshidi last year.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the public outcry following the police handling of that case showed that the force needed to rethink their methods in handling similarly mentally challenged people.
“Shortly after the incident, a task force was set up for six months to work on a new set of guidelines in investigating people with autism.
“We engaged experts from local universities on the matter to advise us as well,” he told a press conference after the 212th Police Day celebration at the police training centre (Pulapol) here yesterday.
Mohamad Fuzi also said police would be setting up an autism centre in Pulapol.
“There are 484 children with autism within the PDRM family and we will take care of them.
“Another autism centre will also be set up in the Royal Malaysian Police college in Cheras,” he said.
He added that from now, all cases involving children and people with autism would be handled according to the new guidelines by all police officers.
On Sept 11 last year, Ahmad Ziqri, 22, was arrested for allegedly touching a 24-year-old woman’s chest after a birthday celebration at a restaurant.
He was then taken to court to be remanded the next day, which meant that he had to spend the night in police lock-up.
His mother Hasnah had told The Star that her son – who is of diminished mental capacity – did not understand the consequences of his actions or why he was being arrested.
Hasnah had said people like her autistic son were children in adult bodies.
The police had applied for a four-day remand but this was denied by the Petaling Jaya magistrate’s court on Sept 12.
Ahmad Ziqri was subsequently released on police bail.
A few days later, a massive public show of support saw thousands of people signing an online petition calling for Ahmad Ziqri to be fairly treated and for the authorities to review its standard operating procedures when dealing with persons with disabilities.
Meanwhile, Mohamad Fuzi said that recent statistics showed a drop in crime in the past 10 years.
“The crime index for the last 10 years (2009-2018) has shown a drop as much as 58.3%. For the 2018 crime index, there was a drop of 11,949 cases,” he said in his speech.
The nation’s top cop added that however crime was ever changing, and had become more complex.
“The police force are always upgrading the operating and investigating systems, to keep in line with the latest advances in technology,” he said.
Among the successes recorded by the police force last year included the busting of 35 drug processing labs.
“This is compared to the 19 busted in 2017,” he said.
Mohamad Fuzi also noted a rise in Macau scam cases.
“This has worried the public. A total of 2,228 cases were reported in 2018, compared to the 1,414 in 2017,” he said.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who attended the event lauded the men in blue for their service and sacrifice.
“I would like to congratulate the police in reducing the crime rate in the country in 2018.
“Last year, the crime index was recorded at 88,662 cases which was 11.9% lower than the target threshold of 100,611 cases,” he said.
He said the government would always provide funding to the police to keep them up to date despite the increase in cost.
“We will constantly upgrade the force’s capabilities so that they will be equipped to meet the ever tougher challenges,” he said, urging the public to continue working with the police to keep the country safe.