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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 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 vulnerable adult. The VAA supports the family to protect and care for the vulnerable adult, and enables MSF APS to intervene as a last resort when family and community intervention fail.

Under the VAA, a vulnerable adult 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 in 2019 to 2020. The increase was mainly due to members of the public being more aware of family violence and calling our helplines, as MSF and our partners stepped up outreach efforts especially during the Circuit Breaker period. These calls included general enquiries that may not involve actual incidences of violence.

Number of Enquiries received by MSF APS, by Year

  2016 2017  2018  2019  2020 
Number of enquiries* received    436  488  665  607  1196
*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 results in a lower number of investigations directly managed by MSF APS in 2020.  

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

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


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

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


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

Neglect occurs when a vulnerable adult 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 vulnerable adult.

Self-neglect is the failure of the vulnerable adult 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.  

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

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

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

Download: Adult Protection Statistics

Source: Ministry of Social and Family Development

Statistics were last updated on 7 May 2021

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