Parliament: New scheme to identify and deal with issues leading offenders to commit crime

SINGAPORE - In a move to identify and deal with the basic issues that lead people to crime, a new initiative will be launched by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The scheme - called the Home Team Community Assistance and Referral Scheme, or HT Cares - is meant to help those who may need help beyond the offence, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, during the budget debate on Friday (March 2).

"Often when dealing with individuals who have committed offences, our officers become aware of the other problems and the complex circumstances surrounding them," said Mr Shanmugam, citing issues over health, family and income as examples.

While investigators tackle the "crime-solving", the CARES officers will assess whether social interventions are needed to address the underlying issues, through ways such as counselling, mental health assistance and financial assistance, the minister said.

The Cares officers will then refer the offenders to a suitable agency for help, and continue to follow-up.

Mr Shanmugam said MHA is studying the initiative in detail with the Ministry of Social and Family Development and will pilot this at a police division this year.

MHA is also expanding the Appropriate Adults (AA) Scheme, a volunteer scheme for more young suspects.

Under the scheme, young suspects are accompanied by trained, independent volunteers during interviews in criminal investigations to provide emotional support to interviewees.

In April this year, the AA scheme will be launched for young suspects to more police and Central Narcotics Bureau units, and will include Customs and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.

The AA scheme started in 2013 for persons with intellectual disabilities or mental health problems and was expanded to young suspects in 2017.

Last year, volunteers supported about 700 interviews during the course of investigations.