Published: 12 April 2022
SMS Sim Ann,
MOS Low Yen Ling,
Parl Sec Rahayu Mahzam,
Deputy Commissioner of Police,
Partners and Friends,
1. A very good morning to all of you.
2. April is the Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Police have organised this seminar today, to discuss further a very important topic of how Government agencies and community partners, can work together to really better protect and support sexual assault survivors, victims.
3. All of you know now that we take a very, very strong and firm stance on dealing with sexual offences.
4. And over the years, we have made many changes both in terms of the law and processes to make sure that we are on top of dealing with the problem. So we have strengthened our legislative levers.
5. The Police have also been very active in reviewing their processes, and that’s again set out in my speech.
6. Police are also taking very active steps to increase public awareness about sexual assault and what people can do, what victims can do.
7. And Police, in partnership with MOE, have been engaging educational institutions to raise awareness about sexual offences and the overall sexual crime situation.
8. If you go to the Police website, you will see a detailed setting out of the investigation processes, the court processes, that sexual assault victims can look at and understand. It is also in pamphlets that Police distribute.
9. While we do all of this, we want to continue to improve, so we are reviewing what more we can do and I will share with you four further ideas today.
Police’s Sexual Crime Review
10. Four key areas will be reviewed:
(i) Police’s operational and investigative processes;
(ii) Training for Police officers;
(iii) Public awareness of sexual crime investigation and court processes; and
(iv) Community partnerships to strengthen support for victims because that can’t be done by Government alone.
11. Police will also conduct a survey this year. They will engage sexual assault victims on a voluntary basis to provide feedback on Police’s existing processes and victim care measures. And hopefully that will help us identify further areas for improvement.
12. Let me now touch on the four areas that I briefly mentioned earlier.
(A) Formation of Sexual Crime & Family Violence Command
13. First, this year, Police will set up a new Sexual Crime and Family Violence Command. Steps will be taken this year and the Command will be step up by next year.
14. This new Command will oversee all sexual and family violence cases, and will be staffed by Police officers who are specialists in investigating these sorts of cases.
15. These will be officers who will be trained to deal with sexual crime, family violence cases, and also given victim management skills.
(B) Enhanced Training for Police Officers
16. Second, Police will continue to strengthen the training for Investigation Officers and all frontline Police officers who might be the first responders.
17. They will undergo regular training on sexual crime investigations and victim care. They will also attend seminars and sessions organised by Police, like the one today, where professionals and stakeholders will be invited to discuss the best practices on how to handle these matters.
(C) Launch of Revamped Sexual Assault Webpage on SPF’s Website
18. Third, Police will launch a revamped one-stop webpage to increase public awareness on sexual assault and the investigation processes of sexual crime cases.
19. That webpage will provide information on what is the nature of sexual assault, what are the investigation processes, what are the victim care measures, and what are the support services available for victims.
20. It will also include videos setting out the Police's investigation processes.
21. And this revamped webpage will be launched later this year.
(D) Formation of New Community Partnerships
22. Fourth, supporting victims of sexual assault requires the whole community to come together. So we will continue to strengthen our partnerships with our NGOs and partners. And Police have also been exploring new partnerships.
23. One example is Police's collaboration with Care Corner Project StART, or CCCPS for short. CCPS is a family violence specialist centre and it provides support to victims of any form of violence.
24. And today victims may be provided with emotional support during investigations, under the Police's Victim Care Cadre Program. So even as investigations are ongoing, the victims may be given emotional support.
25. Police are working on referring victims of sexual assault cases to CCPS, so that victims can continue to receive the support from CCCPS, both during investigations as well as post investigations. So there is hand-holding and it could include counselling and intervention.
(E) SG Her Empowerment Limited
26. And quite importantly MCCY, as well as MSF, and my ministry, we have thought about this idea that there can be a new NGO that brings together various strengths.
27. We have called it SG Her Empowerment Limited, or in short, SHE, is being set up this month. The idea of SHE came from the Sunlight Alliance for Action (AfA), which has done a tremendous amount of good work. Sunlight AfA, as some of you may know, is led by my colleagues SMS Sim Ann and Parliamentary Secretary Rahayu. The AfA has identified work which will need to be done, and SHE will be the primary vehicle for that work to be done.
28. The Chairperson for SHE, is obviously going to be extremely important because it is a start up with a huge mountain to climb.
29. So Sim Ann and Yen Ling have persuaded Stefanie Thio to do this job. When you think of Stef, those of us who know her, various descriptions come to mind – redoubtable, formidable, indefatigable - you get the picture. She is a bundle of energy. Stef is a member of the Sunlight AfA, and a managing partner at TSMP Law Corporation, a highly accomplished lawyer. Several key members of the Sunlight AfA have also volunteered to serve on the board of SHE.
30. We thank Stef, and her fellow volunteers. This is extremely important work. I hope to see the NGO follow up on the work, the ideas that have come out from the Sunlight AfA, as well as the conversations surrounding the White Paper on Women’s Development.
31. Sim Ann and Yen Ling have been the primary movers for this. They will serve as SHE’s special advisors. Ann played the key role in the AfA, and pushed the issue of online safety continuously when it wasn’t easy to do so. Ann can be said to be driving force for the birthing of SHE, and also has helped to raise a very substantial amount, nearly $700,000 for SHE, from the community to help establish SHE. Her efforts both in the Sunlight AfA and SHE have gone a long way. And Yen Ling has assisted tremendously in working with Ann and Stef to get SHE set up, get the people, and MCCY will be an important partner for SHE. Rahayu with her portfolios has been very helpful. So I thank all three ladies, together with Stef in getting this going, but the work is just starting.
32. SHE will deal with a broad range of issues affecting women, including the following three areas:
(i) Setting up a victim support centre for online, sexual harms;
(ii) Working with platforms to simplify the reporting of harmful online content to be removed; and
(ii) Working with the Law Society to provide pro bono legal advice to victims. And MinLaw will come in and help in whichever way we can but the essential point is we see this vehicle, this new NGO as playing an extremely important role in the lives of women who need help, and the Government is fully committed to supporting it, as you can see from the fact that so many of us are here to support this initiative.
33. SHE will also work with other organisations and NGOs to roll out programmes aimed at enhancing women’s development in Singapore.
34. So, I am glad to see a new community-led charity working to empower women and girls, and continuing the dialogues started in the Conversations on Women’s Development, the recent White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development and also Sunlight Alliance for Action.
35. So we hope to work with them closely, particularly to enhance support in the entire ecosystem, for those who have suffered harm, online or physical and emotional.
36. As we work on this review, let me also mention the role of technology. The 90,000 cameras that we have installed all around the island have helped solve crimes, including sexual crimes. We are going to increase that to 200,000, and budget allowing, even more. Many of them are smart cameras, to build really a connected network of sensors not just the 200,000 cameras that we hope to have in place, but also the cameras and sensors from other agencies and network them. And that has helped us solve crimes now in a matter of hours as opposed to days or when the culprits get away.
37. Another key area is DNA, particularly in the context of sexual crimes. Many crimes get solved through DNA.
38. So let me give you an example. In one case, recent case, Police matched the DNA profile from a rape scene and the victim’s body with blood samples from another case. Before the match, the case had been unsolved for more than a decade, more than 10 years. With the match, Police managed to identify the rapist, bring him to justice.
39. Without the powers to collect and retain DNA evidence, the rapist would not have been caught. So we are looking at these powers of collection and retention and we’ll make announcements in due course.
40. I wish everyone a fruitful seminar. Together, we can and must do more to stop sexual violence in Singapore. Thank you.