KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — Mindful of changes in society, the police are drafting a new standard operating procedure (SOP) to handle criminal suspects with autism.

Among the current practices under review are the use of handcuffs for autistic suspects and consideration for them to be accompanied by a guardian upon arrest or remand, said Commissioner Datuk Ramli Din, the research and development head of the Bukit Aman Inspector-General of Police Secretariat.

“We decided this is necessary after realising that there are growing concerns among the public and human rights activists about how the police deals with suspects with autism,” he told a press conference at Pusat Permata Kurnia here today.

He added that the police will also look at the SOPs used by authorities in other countries to ensure autistic suspects receive the appropriate treatment.

The SOP review announcement follows criticism over police treatment of Ahmad Ziqri Morshidi, 22, an autistic man who was arrested last week for allegedly molesting a woman in Subang Jaya.

Ziqri’s arrest made headlines after a video of him being handcuffed, in spite of his disability, went viral.

Pending the new SOP, Ramli said the police will work together with Pusat Permata Kurnia and a non-profit group Yayasan Pengaman Malaysia to improve their awareness and understanding of autism.

“This is so that police officers can gain better understanding of what autism is and how it affects those suffering from it,” he said.

Pusat Permata Kurnia director Assoc Prof Dr Hasnah Toran said a full understanding of autistic needs would help the police make pertinent decisions promptly, especially involving developmentally-challenged suspects.

“When investigating, they will be able to decide whether legal actions should be taken or not. Automatically, the case solution can be expedited,” she said.