602 people in S'pore referred to scheme that helps offenders identify issues leading them to crime

Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim (second from left) with social workers from Fei Yue at the HT Cares centre in Police Cantonment Complex, on Dec 9, 2021. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

SINGAPORE - The police referred 602 people from January 2019 to November this year to an initiative that helps offenders address why they broke the law and how they can seek help to avoid reoffending.

Under the Home Team Community Assistance and Referral Scheme (HT Cares), social workers stationed at police divisions help to identify issues that led offenders to crime and refer them to suitable agencies for help in areas such as financial assistance or employment.

Crimes these offenders committed include family violence, shop theft and illegal gambling.

Piloted in January 2019 at Bedok Police Division, the scheme was expanded in September this year to include the next of kin living under the same roof as offenders being investigated for family violence.

The police said on Thursday (Dec 9) this helps the offenders' families - some of whom are victims of family violence - to get help in a timely manner.

"HT Cares officers similarly review the needs of next of kin at the police station and refer them to appropriate social assistance if necessary," they said.

The 602 comprise 322 offenders referred between January 2019 and August this year, and 280 offenders and their next of kin referred from Sept 1 to Nov 30. Out of these, 72 were family violence cases.

Speaking to reporters at Police Cantonment Complex on Thursday, Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said two more HT Cares centres have been operating since September.

"One is in Police Cantonment Complex and the other is at Woodlands Police Division. These help us to reach out to offenders, provide them with support on underlying issues and help their families," said Associate Professor Faishal.

There are now three HT Cares centres, including the one at Bedok Police Division.

Prof Faishal said he is very touched by the work of HT Cares officers and social workers who provide a listening ear to offenders and find ways to stop them from reoffending.

In addition to offenders, victims who have undergone traumatic incidents such as sexual assault are being given the necessary support, the police said.

They cited the Victim Care Cadre Programme (VCCP) launched in 2014, which is a separate programme from HT Cares.

Under the VCCP, trained volunteers with a background in psychology, social work or counselling provide victims with emotional support throughout the criminal justice process.

"Victim care officers are an integral part of police investigations as they provide support to distressed victims during statement taking or the investigation phase," said the police.

"There may also be some victims who do not have much social support or have reservations speaking to their loved ones about the incident. In such cases, care officers help by offering a listening ear or providing emotional support to them."

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