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Singapore Government

Adult Protection

Adult Protection

The Adult Protective Service (APS), set up in 2015, safeguards the safety and well-being of vulnerable adults (VAs) experiencing abuse, neglect or self-neglect, families experiencing violence, and women and girls below 21 years old who have been ill-treated or are in moral danger. 

The Vulnerable Adults Act (VAA) came into force on 19 December 2018, and is a key part of Singapore’s adult protection framework. With the family as the first line of support, the community and the State play complementary roles in protecting the VA. The VAA supports the family to protect and care for the VA, and enables MSF APS to intervene as a last resort when family and community intervention fail.

Under the VAA, a VA is any individual who meets all the following criteria:
i. is 18 years of age or older;
ii. has mental or physical infirmity, disability or incapacity; and because of it,
iii. is unable to protect himself/herself from abuse, neglect or self-neglect.

To support families experiencing violence, MSF provides funding to social service agencies such as Family Violence Specialist Centres (FVSCs), PAVE Integrated Services for Individual and Family Protection Specialist Centre (ISIFPSC) and crisis shelters. To protect women and girls below 21 years old who have been ill-treated or are in moral danger, the Women’s Charter (WC) enables MSF APS to remove the victim to a place of safety or commit her to the care of a fit individual.

The number of enquiries received by MSF APS increased from 2020 to 2021. These enquiries included general enquiries that may not involve actual incidences of violence. The increase was due to an improved public awareness of family violence from the Break the Silence campaign since its launch in 2016 and the launch of the National Anti-Violence Helpline (NAVH) in February 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic had further caused many families to experience additional stress and conflict in having to juggle between familial duties and work commitments, amidst greater uncertainty, which might have resulted in heightened tension in the family and/or the occurrence of family violence. 

Number of Enquiries received by MSF APS, by Year

  2016 2017  2018  2019  2020  2021 
 Number of enquiries* received    436  488  665  607  1196  1948
*These enquiries include those related to vulnerable adult abuse and other types of family violence, and may range from actual cases of abuse and violence, to general enquiries by a concerned member of the public.

 

The increased collaboration between MSF APS and community agencies in managing cases involving VAs where the risk is low to moderate has resulted in timely intervention and support for all cases. Community agencies are equipped to manage low to moderate risk cases while MSF APS focuses on managing cases with immediate danger and requiring statutory protection under the VAA and WC since 2020. Consequently, this collaborative effort resulted in a lower number of investigations directly managed by MSF APS in 2020.  The increase in the number of cases investigated by MSF APS in 2021 was in tandem witth the increase in enquiries received by MSF APS. 

Number of Investigations under VAA and WC by MSF APS, by Year

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020  2021 
 Number of Investigations under VAA and WC 114 133 212 221 166   205

 

Number of Investigations under VAA and WC by MSF APS, by Year and Age of Survivor at the Point of Investigation

 Age 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020   2021
 16 to < 18 years                                7 5 12 9  0*
 18 to < 65 years  52 51 74 85  67  85
 ≥ 65 years   55  77 126  127   96  120
 Total 114 133 212 221  166  205

*Under the Children and Young Person's Act, the protection of abused and neglected children has been extended to children below 18 years from Jul 2020. For 2021 statistics on child protection, please refer to https://www.msf.gov.sg/research-and-data/Research-and-Statistics/Pages/Child-Abuse-Investigations.aspx

 

Number of Investigations under VAA and WC by MSF APS, by Year and Type of Abuse*

 Type of Abuse 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020  2021 
 Physical Abuse 39 38 73 93 85   96
 Sexual Abuse 11 6 9 16 11   15
 Emotional & Psychological Abuse 14 23 28 37  66  75
 Neglect 40 42 71 65 61   78
 Self-Neglect 18 19 29 39  57  86

*Each case investigated may present with more than one type of abuse

Abuse can include physical, sexual, emotional/psychological abuse, including conduct that dominates the VA and causes him/her to fear for safety or unreasonably deprives him/her of liberty of movement/well-being. 

Neglect occurs when a VA does not receive essential care such as food, clothing, medical aid and other necessities of life resulting in personal injury, physical pain or injury to the physical or mental health of the VA.

Self-neglect is the failure of the VA to perform essential tasks of daily living, resulting in him/her living in grossly unsanitary or hazardous conditions, suffering from malnutrition/dehydration, or suffering from an untreated illness/injury.  

Download: Adult Protection Statistics

Source: Ministry of Social and Family Development

Updated on 11 Apr 2022

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