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  • I-Witness

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) held the third run of the Sexual Crime Awareness Seminar on 15 April 2024. The event, held in conjunction with the International Sexual Assault Awareness Month, was attended by Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of Social and Family Development.

Sexual crime is a concern among youth offenders. In 2023, more than 470 youths, aged 19 and below, were arrested for sexual crimes. This was an increase of about 30% as compared to the previous year, with sexual penetration of minors being the most common offence among youth arrestees. Most cases involved culprits known to the victims. 

The seminar aimed to increase awareness of the youth sexual offending situation, and the criminal justice procedures for both offenders and victims. This included highlighting prevalent drivers and risk factors associated with youth sexual offending, and available support resources and programs tailored for youth victims, at-risk youths, and youth offenders involved in sexual offences.

The seminar featured presentations and a closed-door panel dialogue by the SPF’s key partners and stakeholders, such as the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Home Team Psychology Division (HTPD), Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Singapore Prison Service (SPS), SG Her Empowerment (SHE)  , and specialists from the Serious Sexual Crime Branch. 

Since the establishment of the Sexual Crime and Family Violence Command (SFC) on 3 April 2023, the SPF has undertaken several additional initiatives to enhance support for victims of sexual crimes. These new initiatives include:  

  1. Implementation of a "Sexual Crime Report" option in the queue management system kiosk at Police stations to provide increased privacy and priority for victims of sexual crimes.

  2. Opening of the redesigned One-Stop Abuse Forensic Examination (OneSAFE) Centre in April 2023. The OneSAFE Centre was piloted in January 2017 with the aim of having sexual crime victims undergo forensic medical investigations (FME) and Police’s interview at a single location within the Police Cantonment Complex, rather than traveling between a police station and a hospital. The redesigned OneSAFE Centre features an expanded capacity with two new medical rooms as well as a redesigned layout and environment which provides the victims with a dedicated victim care area to further enhance privacy and comfort during the investigation process. 

  3. Ongoing discussions between the SPF and its stakeholders to broaden the eligibility criteria for Multi-Disciplinary Interviews (MDI), with the aim of supporting a larger number of young victims of serious sexual crimes. MDI integrates forensic medical examination with investigative interviews to minimise the potential for re-traumatisation during the investigative process.

The SPF and other ministries are also intensifying efforts to reduce offending for young offenders and enhance support for victims by enhancing the capabilities of schools and community-based counsellors to effectively engage students. For example: 

  1. The Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) curriculum has been complemented by Police-led school talks at secondary schools, junior colleges, and Millennia Institute, focusing on sexual crime prevention to promote greater awareness of personal safety and respect for boundaries among youths. 

  2. The HTPD and MOE are collaborating to develop a resource package on early identification and intervention for youths with at-risk sexual behaviours and with issues from pornography. This package will be used to train counsellors in schools and the community to recognise early signs of harmful sexual behaviours in children and youths, facilitating early intervention. It will also enable schools and community-based counsellors to engage more effectively on these topics. The Resource Package for youths with at-risk Sexual Behaviour is scheduled for roll-out in 2H 2024.

    “In the past – our responses to sexual violence have been criminal justice interventions that occur after sexual harm has been committed. But now, we aim to take collective action and harness upstream interventions to prevent youth sexual offending. What do we mean by that? Investing in early preventive education and building community capability in the early identification and intervention of inappropriate sexual behaviours before it escalates to an offence. With the rise of the Internet, smartphones and youths being digital natives, the Internet has become an accessible ‘sex educator’ through spreading misinformation on sex and relationships through sexually explicit materials (SEM), including pornography. That’s our concern. Without alternative narratives and early detection of sexually inappropriate behaviours displayed by youths, youths can become preoccupied with online SEM.  They adopt unrealistic, harmful perceptions towards women and girls, and this can contribute to sexual offending. So, in government, we work hand in hand with other agencies. We also seek the views of youths themselves and the professionals who work with them through direct public engagements to identify gaps and propose workable solutions. The Home Team Psychology Division at MHA is working closely with MOE to develop solutions and programs to address these gaps. By collaborating, we hope to reduce the likelihood of inappropriate behaviours, reduce sex offences and overall, aim for our youths to have positive well- being.”

Shamala d/o Gopalakrishnan, Assistant Director / Lead Psychologist,
Home Team Psychology Division

The SPF will continue to collaborate with community partners to further enhance support for young victims of sexual crime. 

  1. The SPF is piloting a partnership with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) to tap the expertise of candidates pursuing their Masters in Forensic Psychology. These candidates participate in and pass the same recruitment and training process that VCOs undergo, to ensure that they are adequately trained to provide victim support. Since March 2024, they have been called upon to respond to activations for victim care services. This initiative improves response capabilities by increasing the available pool of VCOs, and allows these candidates to apply their learning in real-world situations. 

    “I joined VCCP because of my previous work experience at a residential girls’ home. From working with many victims there, I often heard how intimidating the legal processes are, right from the beginning when making a report. I want to be present for people who may struggle with similar worries and concerns and help them both in the moment while also ensuring that they are adequately linked up with further resources in the community. I believe that there’s so much value in supporting victims of crime across all levels, from direct work all the way to policy and systemic changes.”
    Foo Wen Ning Charmaine, Year 2 student in SUSS’ Masters of Psychology (Forensic Psychology) Programme.

  2. The SPF is in discussions with community partners to explore the referral of young victims for longer-term support and intervention.

Collaborating with diverse stakeholders, the SPF has developed a video highlighting the end-to-end processes for managing sexual crimes involving youth victims. The video explains the reporting process and disclosure of incidents through community partners, such as schools, as well as the investigation and prosecution processes. It also highlights the existing victim care measures integrated throughout the entire process. Recognising that addressing youth sexual offending requires a comprehensive government-wide approach, the SPF reaffirms our commitment to further safeguarding and supporting victims of sexual crimes. The video will be made available on SPF’s YouTube page, and the link will be posted on SPF’s Facebook page on 15 April 2024.

Screenshot of the sexual crime video 

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15 April 2024 @ 4:45 PM
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