Number of re-offending youth down but more can be done, says Lee | The New Paper

Number of re-offending youth down but more can be done, says Lee

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Although the proportion of juveniles in Singapore who return to crime has declined, it is still too high, said Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee.

To address the problem, an inter-ministerial committee will be set up to suggest how these youngsters can be given more help to mend their ways.

The committee will comprise officials from the Ministries of Education, Home Affairs, as well as Social and Family Development (MSF).

Explaining the move, Mr Lee said that every youth that slips back into crime is one life wasted.

“It’s not just numbers, these are lives you are talking about. So we shouldn’t rest on our laurels and say, ‘Well, our recidivism rate is pretty low, so let it be,’” he told reporters on Tuesday when he unveiled several major plans of his ministry.

Latest figures show that among those who had completed rehabilitation in 2011, 16.7 per cent re-offended within three years. This is a drop from 20.3 per cent among the 2007 cohort that was tracked for three years until 2010.

These juveniles were aged between seven and under-16. A similar pattern was seen among offenders below age 21.

The MSF found that 10.7 per cent who finished their rehabilitation in 2012 re-offended within three years, down from 13.8 per cent for those discharged from rehabilitation in 2010.

One reason for the slide is better community and school support available for these youth, said Mr Lee, who took charge of the ministry last September.

Other plans in the pipeline include making divorce proceedings less adversarial (see report on right) and introducing a law by June to better protect disabled and vulnerable adults from abuse, he told the media after he toured the PAP Community Foundation’s preschool in Marsiling.