Since the start of the Circuit Breaker period on 7 April 2020, there has been an increase in the number of Police reports related to family violence. From 7 Apr 2020 to 6 May 2020, there were 476 Police reports filed for offences commonly associated with family violence. such as hurt, criminal force and assault, criminal intimidation, and wrongful confinement. This was an increase of 22% compared to the monthly average of 389 such cases before the Circuit Breaker period.
The Singapore Police Force takes a serious view of such cases. The Police will continue to take tough enforcement action against those who abuse their family members, and also enhance collaboration with social service agencies to combat family violence.
Enhanced steps to be taken to facilitate social support to victims of family violence
Proactively facilitating social support for victims at risk of further family violence
Currently, the Police refer victims of family violence to the nearest Family Service Centre or the Family Violence Specialist Centre if they request social assistance, and to one of the four crisis shelters funded by the Ministry of Social and Family Development if they request shelter. To enhance protection, the Police will help such victims even if they do not make any request for assistance or shelter. Specifically, we will assess the victims’ risks of encountering further family violence, and proactively refer those assessed to be at higher risk to social services, to ensure that they receive the help they need. In making these assessments, the Police will consider a number of factors, including the profiles of their offenders and the nature of violence inflicted.
Apart from referring higher-risk victims to the social service agencies for timely social assistance, the Police will watch over these victims closely. For example, within the first week of lodging the Police report, the Police will contact the victims to check in with them, and find out if they need further assistance at that point.
Extending early intervention to offenders of family violence via referral to HT CARES
To break the cycle of family violence, the root causes that led to the offenders committing violence on their family members also need to be addressed. The Police will therefore also extend support to offenders, via the Home Team Community Assistance and Referral Scheme (HT CARES), which started as a pilot at the Bedok Police Division last year. Under this scheme, the Police refer offenders to social workers, called CARES officers, who assess whether social intervention is needed to address the offenders’ underlying issues, through means such as counselling, mental health assistance, and financial assistance, and referring the offenders to suitable agencies for help. All Police Land Divisions are now able to refer offenders whom they are investigating for family violence to CARES officers. This will ensure that offenders who need social assistance are referred earlier to avenues for help.
Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Home Affairs) said: “I am very concerned about the increase in number of family violence incidents reported to the Police. Worldwide trends show that stress and social isolation caused by Covid-19 could lead to more cases of family violence. There can be many reasons why victims do not specifically request for assistance or shelter, but to better protect them, the Police will proactively refer victims at higher risk of further violence to social service agencies and also follow up by checking up on them to make sure they are alright. We need to keep the victims of family violence on our radar and ensure that harm does not happen to them again. We also appeal to the community to help keep a look out for signs of family violence and to report their suspicions so that help can be rendered to the victim as soon as possible. The simple act of reporting can help save someone’s life or prevent further suffering.”
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
14 May 2020 @ 8:00 AM