5,135 family violence cases reported in 2020 as police release figures for first time

The offences included causing hurt, using criminal force, assault, criminal intimidation, and wrongful confinement.
The offences included causing hurt, using criminal force, assault, criminal intimidation, and wrongful confinement.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Police have for the first time revealed figures on the number of reports made for family violence offences in a year as part of a commitment to protect victims.

On Thursday (Jan 21), police said 5,135 such reports were made last year and 1,115 of those cases were referred to family service centres or family violence specialist centres.

No figures were provided for previous years.

The offences included causing hurt, using criminal force, assault, criminal intimidation, and wrongful confinement.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to the Bedok Police Division, Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said there was a 10 per cent rise in family violence cases every month between April and December last year.

He said the increase was expected as people spent longer hours at home compared with pre-Covid-19 days.

"Family violence is something that happens behind closed doors and many have been shy to talk about it in the open. Over the years, (however), different agencies have brought the issue up to the public to (encourage) people to come forward," said Associate Professor Faishal.

Police had previously said that 476 reports were filed from April 7 to May 6 last year for offences commonly associated with family violence. This was a 22 per cent jump from the monthly average of 389 for such cases before the circuit breaker period, which began on April 7 last year.

Prof Faishal also disclosed that the Home Team Community Assistance and Referral Scheme (HT Cares), which helps offenders address the root causes of their problems, will be expanded to cover their next-of-kin.

"We want to provide more holistic help for the families involved in such cases... If we are better able to understand their needs, we can reach out to various social service agencies that may be able to help them," he said.

Under HT Cares, social workers stationed at police divisions assess what type of intervention is required for the offender, and refer them to suitable agencies for help in different areas, such as financial assistance or counselling sessions.

It was piloted in January last year at the Bedok Police Division and efforts are under way to extend the scheme to all divisions by the end of the year.

Since it was launched in January 2019, the police have referred 218 offenders to HT Cares officers.