No backdating of reformative training sentences among reforms to criminal justice system

No backdating of reformative training sentences among reforms to criminal justice system

The first reading of the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill was done on Monday (Feb 11).

handcuffs
File photo of handcuffs. (Photo: TODAY)

SINGAPORE: There will be no more backdating of reformative training sentences - part of a set of reforms of the Criminal Procedure Code - if the amendment bill is passed.

The Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill was read for the first time in Parliament on Monday (Feb 11) and is an improvement and refinement to the major reforms made to the code last year, the Law Ministry said in a press release the same day.

READ: 52 changes proposed to Criminal Procedure Code and Evidence Act

Among the reforms is the removal of the possibility of backdating a reformative training (RT) sentence, which is allowed in the current law. This means the offender’s time in remand will be factored into the overall length of his or her RT sentence.

The ministry said RT sentences have the purpose of putting youthful offenders (those below 21 years old) who commit relatively serious crimes through intensive rehabilitation. 

As such, backdating these sentences shortens the time spent by the offender in these programmes and may prevent them from completing these as designed, it said. 

There were concerns among the legal community that this might disadvantage offenders who may have been remanded for a long time and subsequently sentenced to reformative training. 

To address this, Government agencies will work together to ensure that where RT is a likely sentence, remand is avoided or minimised where possible, the ministry said.

INVESTIGATING VRI-RELATED OFFENCES

Another proposed change is to empower other law enforcement agencies besides the police to investigate offences related to video recording of interviews (VRI), the Law Ministry said.

READ: Video statements, closed-door hearings among law changes mooted to protect victims

In the introduction of VRI last year, new related offences were created such as the unauthorised recording of the process and the unauthorised copying or distribution of a statement in audiovisual form.

However, only the police can investigate such offences, even if the offences take place during, say, an investigation conducted by the Central Narcotics Bureau, the ministry said. 

To allow for better resource allocation for such investigations, the amendments empower prescribed law enforcement agencies such as CNB to investigate VRI-related offences, it said. 

These reforms came about after stakeholders such as the Criminal Bar were consulted on the amendments, the Law Ministry said. 

The next reading of the bill is expected to take place in March.

Source: CNA/kk

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