Written Replies to Parliamentary Questions

Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on the Contributing Factors for the Current Low Two-Year Recidivism Rate

Published: 01 March 2022


Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim:
To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what are the contributing factors leading to the current record low two-year recidivism rate amongst ex-offenders; and (b) what are the challenges that can prevent long-term recidivism rate from being reduced further.


Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law:

1.   The latest two-year recidivism rate, for the cohort of ex-offenders released in 2019, was 20%. This was the lowest in the last 30 years.

2.   There has been a general downward trend in the two-year recidivism rate, which fell from 27.6% for the 2012 cohort, to 20% for the 2019 cohort. The improvement in the recidivism rate has been achieved through the joint efforts of Singapore Prison Service (SPS), Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG), and their community partners.

3.   Several new programmes have been introduced in the last few years. An example is the Enhanced Drug Rehabilitation Regime introduced in 2014, for first- and second-time drug abusers, which enhanced rehabilitative interventions for these drug abusers. The Mandatory Aftercare Scheme was also operationalised in 2014, where higher-risk ex-offenders were given more interventions and support.

4.   The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) enhanced its drug supervision regime in 2019. For drug supervisees deemed to be at higher risk of relapsing, the maximum duration of supervision in the community was increased from two years to up to five years.

5.   Community partners and volunteers also have been a key pillar of support in this journey. An example is the Throughcare Volunteer Framework recently introduced in 2019. Volunteers build rapport with inmates through various interest-based activities such as tea appreciation and craftwork in prison. These volunteers continue to befriend them after their release and connect them to wider networks and communities of support outside of prison.

6.   Although there has been a general downward trend, the recidivism rate may fluctuate from year to year, as it is influenced by many factors such as the level of community and family support for ex-offenders. It is also affected by the risk profile of the ex-offenders, which would differ from cohort to cohort.

7.   The five-year recidivism rate, was at 41.1% for the 2016 cohort, compared to 23.7% for the two-year recidivism rate for the same cohort. The five-year recidivism rate has dropped slightly over the years, from 43.2% for the 2012 cohort, to 41.1% for the 2016 cohort. SPS is studying whether it will be possible to bring down the five-year recidivism rate further. This is challenging because, in the end, it depends on a variety of factors. Some of them include: the level of support the releasee gets from family, his/her own ability to integrate into society, keep a job, the influences on the releasees, and other similar factors. Around the world this is a challenge.