Scheme to improve rape reporting expanded
Improvements to OneSafe Centre will better ensure privacy and comfort of those who report sexual assaults: Shanmugam
A scheme that makes it easier for victims to report sexual crimes will be expanded to better ensure their privacy and comfort.
Starting from May 1, the One-Stop Abuse Forensic Examination (OneSafe) Centre, which allows victims to be examined medically and lodge a police report at the same time, will have doctors from three hospitals on standby to tend to rape victims.
In the pilot programme, only doctors from Singapore General Hospital were available.
Doctors from National University Hospital and KK Women's and Children's Hospital will be added to the roster.
Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, who visited the facility at the Police Cantonment Complex yesterday, said: "We want to make the (recounting of the experience) as painless as possible."
With the expansion, the centre is set to help 90 per cent of victims of sexual crimes, up from 25 per cent during the pilot. In 2016, the police solved all 149 reported cases of sexual assault. Last year, police solved all but one of the 191 cases.
"That one case was 30 years old," said Mr Shanmugam, adding that the police had "done very well in solving the cases".
A police spokesman said victims' privacy can be better protected at the centre as they do not have to go to two separate venues - a police station and a hospital - in order to make a report.
The spokesman also urged victims to make reports within 72 hours of the crime to increase the chances of capturing the offender.
Mr Shanmugam also saw the interview room where statements will be recorded on video and can be used in court processes.
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE
The Home Affairs Ministry will start using the room for investigations once the proposed changes to the Criminal Procedure Code take effect, said a spokesman.
The interview subject will sit in front of a digital clock that tells the time, date and temperature of the room, which will be monitored by cameras and mirrors capturing all angles of it.
These features ensure that suspects are interviewed without undue pressure, for instance by the room temperature being allegedly lowered to make him uncomfortable, thus removing any question about the interview process.
For a start, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department will use the interview room to investigate suspects in rape offences.
Investigators from Bedok and Central police divisions will also use the room to interrogate suspects with mental disabilities.
Mr Shanmugam said: "It's a major change, and I think that the Bar will welcome it."
During his visit to the Police Cantonment Complex, the minister also told reporters there are plans to make jumping bail an offence.
He said that this had been on his mind even before former City Harvest Church (CHC) fund manager Chew Eng Han was caught for allegedly trying to leave Singapore illegally after jumping bail on Wednesday.
Mr Shanmugam said the police had done "exceptionally well" to nab Chew, who was due to begin his jail sentence for his role in the CHC saga yesterday, as they could not be expected to keep track of the "thousands of persons" on bail.
As for Singapore's undertaking not to cane Canadian David James Roach in exchange for his extradition from the United Kingdom, Mr Shanmugam said the option was to let the 2016 Standard Chartered Bank robbery suspect escape scot-free or bring him back to face a trial.
"I think it is a fairly obvious answer," he said.