Working with other public agencies, our community partners and stakeholders to strengthen support for victims of sexual crime.
By: Christabelle Lim
The Singapore Police Force (SPF) held its Sexual Crime Awareness Seminar on 14 April 2023. This was the second edition of the Seminar as the SPF continues to work closely with public agencies, community partners and stakeholders to manage sexual crime.
Among those who shared their perspectives at the Seminar were representatives of the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and Care Corner Project StART (Stop-Abusive-Relationships-Together), as well as specialists from the SPF’s Serious Sexual Crime Branch and Police Psychological Services Department.
In his opening address to participants, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law Mr K Shanmugam affirmed the Government’s stance against sexual crime. For example, following a review of the sentencing framework for hurt and sexual offences, in 2021, the Penal Code was amended to increase the penalties for certain sexual offences, including outrage of modesty.
At this year’s Committee of Supply Debate, it was also announced that an Online Criminal Harms Act will be introduced in 2023. The Act will safeguard persons in Singapore from online activities which are considered crimes here, including online sexual crime such as the distribution of inappropriate sexual abuse material.
Reviewing Our Processes and Training
On the policing front, the SPF formed the Sexual Crime and Family Violence Command on 3 April 2023. The new Command will raise investigative capabilities and enhance victim care processes for sexual crime and family violence cases, as well as allow for closer collaborations with other public agencies.
The SPF also continues to enhance training for officers. In 2022, more than 3,500 frontline officers and Investigation Officers (IOs) across all the investigation units received sensitivity training on the engagement and management of family violence victims. This is in addition to ongoing sensitivity training for officers who support victims of sexual crime.
Public education about sexual crime has also been strengthened. The SPF advisory webpage on sexual crime serves as a one-stop information centre on sexual crime and the reporting, investigation and court processes related to it. This helps to raise public awareness about sexual crime and dispel myths associated with it.
When it comes to reporting cases of sexual crime, the SPF will also progressively introduce a “Sexual Crime Report” option at Neighbourhood Police Centre's (NPC) e-kiosks from April 2023. When victims of sexual crime select this option, officers will prioritise attending to them and facilitate their reporting in a private area.
An Enhanced Support Ecosystem
At the Seminar, speakers also shared about new initiatives to support victims of serious sexual crime. For example, as part of a collaboration between the SPF and Care Corner Project StART, longer-term counselling for victims (beyond the conclusion of investigations) has been in place since 2022. This programme augments the support provided by Victim Care Officers (under the SPF’s Victim Care Cadre programme) to victims during the course of investigations.
The SPF has also piloted an initiative with SG Her Empowerment (SHE).Where urgent medical examination is not needed, and depending on the victim’s age, victims of certain serious sexual crime may be interviewed by Police officers at the SHECARES@SCWO premises at Waterloo Street.
A SAFE Space
During the Seminar, participants also learnt more about the SPF’s redesigned One-Stop Abuse Forensic Examination (OneSAFE) Centre. Located at Police Cantonment Complex and in operation since 2017, the Centre has been redesigned and expanded to include a dedicated victim care area to further enhance the privacy and comfort of victims during the investigation process. The Centre also includes two new medical rooms which will increase the capacity for forensic medical examinations.
To reduce the need for child victims of serious sexual crime to recount incidents of abuse to different parties, the SPF is also working closely with stakeholders to expand the eligibility criteria of the Multi-Disciplinary Interview (MDI) model to include more young victims of serious sexual crime.
Piloted in 2018, the MDI integrates previously separate interviews and forensic examinations by different parties (such as IOs, child protection officers and doctors) into a single coordinated interview led by Police officers.
Read the Police News Release on the Sexual Crime Awareness Seminar 2023, and visit the Sexual Crime Awareness Campaign exhibition panels located at the seven Police Land Division Headquarters (HQ) from 14 to 21 April 2023, as well as the following public venues from 22 April to 28 April 2023:
- SHECARES@SCWO, Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations, 96 Waterloo Street, Level 2
- Singapore General Hospital, Main Block 5, Lobby
- KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Level 1, Women’s Tower Podium