Ms Sylvia Lim
MP for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what is the status of the review into the Criminal Justice System for Youths started in October 2015; (b) whether the Government has decided on raising the threshold age under the Children and Young Persons Act from 16 years to 18 years; and (c) what are the pending issues that have delayed the Government's conclusions on this matter.
1. In Oct 2015, the Attorney-General's Chambers chaired an inter-agency committee to review the youth justice system. The committee made several recommendations in Feb 2017, including working towards increasing the age limit under the Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA) to allow youths aged 16 to below 18 years to benefit from a wider range of sentencing options.
2. The Government is working through the recommendations, as part of the wider review of the CYPA.
3. The CYPA is one component of the youth justice system. Youth justice in Singapore, as a whole, is premised on gradated intervention. Our approach is to divert youth offenders, including those aged between 16 and 18 years, away from the Court wherever possible. Placing youth offenders on diversionary programmes outside the youth justice system allows them to be accountable for their actions, and prevents disruption in other areas of development such as education.
4. Operationally, the triage system sieves out and diverts suitable youths who have been arrested for minor offences. These youths are then referred to diversionary programmes such as the Guidance Programme, Enhanced Streetwise, and Youth Enhanced Supervision. The parents of the youths are actively involved in the programmes, which are also offered to youths aged above 16 years. The intent is to help the youths develop better self-control and make better decisions.
5. Youth offenders who are not diverted are assessed for suitability to be placed on probation. Probation focuses on community-based rehabilitation and the Court may order accompanying conditions depending on the needs of the youth offenders. For example, a probationer may be given a curfew or be ordered to reside in a hostel. The State Court may also order other community-based sentences such as mandatory treatment for mental health conditions, regular reporting to a centre and community service.