More young offenders put on probation due to rise in arrests

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More young offenders are being placed on probation, due partly to the increase in the number of such arrests.

In all, 538 probation orders were issued last year, a 27 per cent increase over the 425 in 2018, the Probation and Community Rehabilitation Service 2019 annual report shows.

Around 83 per cent of the probationers are younger than 21.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development, which released the report yesterday, gave two reasons for the rise in probation orders.

One, the number of those aged 18 and 19 being nabbed last year went up by 8 per cent.

And the courts also assessed more offenders for probation.

Common offences committed by those placed on probation include theft, assault, housebreaking and drug offences.

Probationers are required to comply with conditions, such as returning home by a specified time each day and attending rehabilitation programmes.

The ministry's spokesman said: "Such conditions, coupled with rehabilitative approaches, inculcate values such as discipline, structure, responsibility and being mindful of the consequences of one's actions."

The ministry partnered the National Council of Social Service to conduct a study to better understand the factors behind successful rehabilitation.

It found, for instance, that young people with "high family supervision" were 31/2 times more likely to complete their probation compared with those with "low family supervision".

Caregivers in families with high supervision are more involved in the youth's life, among other things.

Ms Lena Teo, deputy director of therapy and mental wellness services at Care Singapore, a charity which helps at-risk youth, explained that young people seek a sense of belonging.

If they do not feel love and acceptance from their families, they are more likely to seek it from friends. If they mix with the wrong crowd, they are more likely to get into trouble again.

"If families spend more time together, to bond and understand the kids better, the youth can feel the love and they know the purpose why they must change (for the better)," she said.

"They change as they don't want to disappoint their families again."