Police Officers in Parti Liyani’s Case Neglected Their Duties Due to ‘High Workload’

Some of you may remember Parti Liyani, the former Indonesian domestic helper who was accused of stealing over $30,000 worth of her employers’ branded goods.

After her conviction was overturned in September 2020, investigations have been carried out on various personnel who were involved in her case, including police officers.

Today (14 February), Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam announced in Parliament that a police investigation officer and his supervisor, who were both involved in Ms Parti’s case, were found to have “neglected their duties” after internal investigations commenced.

The Fine

Both officers have been fined a “medium range” amount as a result of them neglecting their duties, according to the minister.

For neglect of duty, actions that can be taken against police officers include reprimands, financial penalties, demotion or even dismissal.

The actual amount of the fine is different for both officers due to the difference in their initial pay but take up the same proportion of their salary.

How the Officers Failed to Conduct Their Duties

Although the case was handled like a “routine theft case”, Minister Shanmugam admitted that there were several lapses in investigations.

For example, the crime scene was not promptly visited and statements from those involved were not “properly verified”, causing parts of the case to have possibly lost credibility at various junctures.

The minister also added that the officer’s supervisor failed to ensure that “sufficient guidance” was provided to the officer, causing these mistakes to take place.

The Public Service Commission, which is in charge of disciplinary control for civil servants in Singapore, agreed with the amount that both officers were fined.

Both officers could have been fined an amount equivalent to the stoppage of increment for two years.

The Lack of Manpower

Apart from the fine issued to both officers, the lack of manpower and heavy workload that police officers face were also issues that were brought up in Parliament.

According to Minister Shanmugam, the investigation officer in charge of Ms Parti’s case was “was handling many ongoing investigations, prosecutions, and conducting arrest operations at the same time”.

This led the Internal Affairs Office of the police to consider the fact that the officer was under “intense pressure” when deciding the penalty that the officer should be issued.

The minister also added that this was the first time where both officers were involved in a case like this; prior to this, both had “discharged their duties dutifully”.

“I have spoken before about the workload challenges that police investigation officers face,” he explained.

“The only way to deal with this is to increase police headcount… This is a difficult problem, not easily solvable, because of the general manpower shortage.”

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However, despite his sympathy towards the officers, he still insisted that the officers were at fault for their lapses in judgement.

He also added that the officers had “fallen short of expectations”.

When the investigations started, the minister also highlighted the importance of conducting them in a fair manner, just like how they would treat any other case.

“We do not go out to blame and punish, just because there has been a lot of public interest in the matter, and because some call for heavy punishment. We must deal with the case as we would deal with any other case, regardless of publicity. And we must deal with it professionally and properly,” he emphasised.

Difficulties that Police Officers Face

Although the officers have been fairly penalised, the Minister also acknowledged the difficulties that police officers face on a daily basis.

Being under a certain amount of stress all the time means that they will have to decide and act on the spot, many times without proper background knowledge.

“We cannot fault officers just because we think, with the benefit of hindsight, that we would have exercised discretion differently in their situation, or just because we do not agree,” he concluded.

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