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Amid rise in family violence, officers trained to manage such cases deployed at each neighbourhood police centre

SINGAPORE — All neighbourhood police centres now have specially appointed officers who deal specifically with family violence, as part of moves by the police to tackle the rising number of such cases.

Family violence community policing officers and adjunct police trainers undergoing scenario-based training to handle cases of domestic violence.

Family violence community policing officers and adjunct police trainers undergoing scenario-based training to handle cases of domestic violence.

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  • All 34 neighbourhood police centres now have specially appointed officers who deal specifically with domestic violence cases
  • The police have also created pamphlets for victims of family violence
  • These are part of efforts to manage the rise in such cases 

SINGAPORE — All neighbourhood police centres now have specially appointed officers who deal specifically with family violence, as part of moves by the police to tackle the rising number of such cases.

Speaking to reporters at a media event on Monday (Oct 31), Inspector Tony Thian, the deputy officer-in-charge of the community policing unit at Rochor Neighbourhood Police Centre, said that such officers have received special training to handle cases of domestic violence.

“The training includes scenario-based learning to reinforce soft skills needed to engage the victims and what are the immediate steps taken once we receive such a report,” he said. 

He added that these officers, who are known as family violence community policing officers, have been “operationalised” since July. 

There are currently 34 such family violence community policing units islandwide — one at each neighbourhood police centre. 

The police said that the number of officers in each centre differs according to different considerations such as the size of the residential area, though they could not provide the total number of such officers across the country. 

In a press release on Tuesday (Nov 1), the police said that there were 2,603 cases of family violence cases from January to June.

In response to questions from TODAY, they said that in the past years, there were 5,190 cases in 2021 and 5,134 in 2020.

The offences commonly associated with family violence included hurt, criminal force, assault and criminal intimidation

Ms Kristine Lam, principal social worker at Care Corner Singapore, said that she has seen cases where victims of domestic violence have been so emotionally abused that they are unable to make simple decisions for themselves. 

Speaking at Monday’s media event, she recounted how an older client she saw has never made decisions on what brand of bread to buy at the supermarket because of the perpetrator’s control over the client. 

“(The abuser) will check the receipt and insult (the family member), asking, ‘Why you buy this and not that brand’... It’s to the point where (the family members) don’t know or cannot trust themselves to make decisions,” she said. 

Ms Lam added that violence does not happen due to factors such as marital issues, parenting differences or family conflicts but they do worsen these situations. 

“The reason why family violence happens is when the abuser — instead of using communication and discussion... (or) thinking of alternatives — decides to use intimidation, humiliation, insults, physical violence and all that in order to get their way in an easy manner.”

On the possible reasons behind the increase in family violence cases, Senior Staff Sergeant Matthew Joshua Wee, a crime prevention officer at the Bedok Police Division, said: “ A greater awareness is being built through all our advocacy… So from my personal observation, I think more people are willing to speak up and are empowered to make a report.” 

Ms Lam also said that police officers will usually refer cases to social workers after they have checked and assessed that there is a social issue. 

The police will also ask if the victim would like to be referred to a social worker. 

If yes, then a social worker would reach out and work with the victim first because the perpetrator may feel shamed if he or she is contacted by the social worker. 

A pamphlet on family violence being used at the Central Police Division and Ang Mo Kio Police Division.

Apart from appointing officers to handle family violence cases, the police also announced on Tuesday that it has worked with several social service agencies to produce information pamphlets for family violence victims. 

The pamphlets include information such as the definitions and signs of family violence, as well as resources for victims. 

They are now available at neighbourhood police centres under the Central Police Division and Ang Mo Kio Police Division. By June next year, these will be made publicly available online and at the rest of the neighbourhood police centres and posts.

Frontline police officers are also being trained to engage and manage victims of family violence. 

Senior Staff Sergeant Wee said that all frontline police officers will be trained in this by the end of this year. 

Related topics

police crime domestic violence

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