More training for front-line officers to spot signs of family violence and support victims

This year’s theme for the Police Workplan Seminar held is Policing with a Heart, Impacting Lives with our Partners. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - When a social worker at Kreta Ayer Family Services found out that the husband of a woman the centre was supporting had become more controlling, she decided to work on a safety plan to help the woman escape.

Relating this recent incident at a seminar, the centre's director Katherine Baptist noted how knowledge of such warning signs of family violence goes a long way to help victims.

From this year, the police will be partnering stakeholders in the social service sector to provide enhanced training to front-line officers so they can intervene more sensitively in family violence cases.

The police said the sharing of professional insight and experience by these stakeholders has allowed them to develop a scenario-based learning model for officers to reinforce the soft skills required to better engage victims and survivors.

"These include recognising the signs of family violence based on victims' responses and underlying psyche," they added.

Speaking to reporters during the Police Workplan Seminar, Ms Baptist noted that the presence of broken items in the family home is a sign that family violence could escalate.

She said: "If the police go to the scene and see broken items in the household, they would have some idea that there has been some aggression.

"And we teach them that breaking of items is normally the start of other acts of physical abuse. So they know vulnerable family members may have been hurt."

Another skill would be knowing how and when to conduct interviews at the crime scene.

Citing an example, Ms Baptist said that a survivor and the perpetrator should not be interviewed together as the survivor would not be able to speak freely.

Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Tan Tin Wee, who also spoke at the seminar, noted that police officers are usually the first responders to family violence cases.

"We will duly respond to calls for help and conduct preliminary investigations, which include interviewing victims, perpetrators as well as witnesses.

"It's important for officers to be mindful towards family violence cases and to be sensitive to the needs of the persons involved."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.