Written Replies to Parliamentary Questions

Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Whether the Drug Rehabilitation Centre Regime has Resulted in Lower Recalcitrant Rates in the Past Two Years of Implementation, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 13 September 2021


Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether the Drug Rehabilitation Centre regime has resulted in lower recalcitrant rates in the past two years of implementation. 



1.    In 2019, MHA introduced changes to strengthen the drug rehabilitation regime. Third and subsequent-time drug abusers who have not committed other concurrent offences are channelled to the Drug Rehabilitation Centre (“DRC”) for treatment and rehabilitation, instead of being charged in court and sentenced to long-term imprisonment (“LT regime”).

2.    The DRC regime consists of an in-care phase and a community-based programme (“CBP”) phase. During the in-care phase, drug abusers go through programmes such as psychology-based correctional programmes, employability skills training, family programmes, and religious programmes. They may then be emplaced on CBP and serve the remainder of their detention in the community under supervision, as part of a step-down approach to facilitate their reintegration into society.

3.    The two-year recidivism rate — defined as the percentage of local inmates under the custody of SPS who are subsequently detained or sentenced to either imprisonment or day reporting order within two years of release into the community — is a key measure of the effectiveness of SPS’s rehabilitation policies and programmes. The two-year period is widely used internationally as a benchmark for recidivism. 

4.    From January 2019 to December 2020, 3,985 drug abusers were admitted into DRC. 1,759, or 44.1%, were third or subsequent-time abusers. As at end-December 2020, 654 third or subsequent-time drug abusers had completed their in-care phase and had been released into the community. The two-year recidivism rate for this group will only be available in 2023, as that is when they would have completed two full years in the community.

5.    In the interim, there are some early indications that the 2019 changes support rehabilitation. Earlier this year, SPS conducted a qualitative study involving third and subsequent-time drug abusers in the DRC. Participants who had previously undergone the LT regime reported that under the DRC regime, they are better able to maintain family ties and reintegrate back into society, compared to the previous times when they were incarcerated for long periods under the LT regime.