Social workers to work with young people arrested for minor offences

Former youth offenders at a camp held in 2012.
Former youth offenders at a camp held in 2012. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - From next year, young people arrested for minor offences will have a trained social worker look into various aspects of his life to see if what he or she needs is social services instead of prosecution.

Called the triage system, it is meant to give prosecutors additional background on young offenders aged 19 and below. The programme will run alongside police investigations.

New chairman for the National Committee on Youth Guidance and Rehabilitation Desmond Lee announced this on Wednesday (Nov 4) morning at the second day of a conference for at-risk youth.

Triage officers will interview the offender and their parent or caregiver and make referrals to social services if needed.

"By engaging not just the youth offender, but also their families, triage officers will be in a good position to identify any socio-economic problems that the offender and his family face and connect them with appropriate social services," said Mr Lee, who is also Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development.

The system will run at all six police land divisions at a cost of $3.4 million from 2016 to 2020.

Mr Lee also announced a study that will start next year of 3,300 youth offenders and their primary caregivers. Interviews will be conducted annually for 10 years to better understand why youth get into trouble and how to better rehabilitate them to prevent further incidences.

kxinghui@sph.com.sg