​​​​​This section provides a summary of the Youth Court matters.

 

The information provided below is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice. The Family Justice Courts cannot provide legal advice or assist with drafting the contents of any document.  

 

References to legislation

 

 


 

Philosophy

Processes and Procedures

Programmes

 


 

Philosophy - Restorative Justice Model

 

The philosophy of the Youth Court is that of Restorative Justice which recognises the potential for change and reform in young offenders and delinquent youths. Restor​ative Justice seeks to re-integrate the young offender or delinquent youth back into their families and community. It seeks to balance the need for effective deterrence versus the need for rehabilitation and restoration.

 

In Youth Court, the youths are made accountable for their offending behaviour/misbehaviour and will then take the responsibility for the consequences of that behaviour by making reparations to society, whether by way of community work, or by way of restitution, compensation and apology to the victim. Where appropriate, the youths are made to confront the victim to make them aware of the harm caused by their offending act.

 

In the Youth Court process, parents are afforded an important role to play in the reform of the youth. Parents of the offender/delinquent youth are provided the opportunity to take responsibility for their Child's behaviour. They are also empowered to play a greater role in the rehabilitation of the youth.

 

Though the Youth Court seeks the re-integration of the youth offender back into society, it is also mindful of issues of public protection and personal accountability, as well as the individual strengths and limitations of the youths who appear before it. Under Section 28 of the Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA) which defines the jurisdiction of the Youth Court, the Court takes into account the welfare of the youths brought before it. In addition to removing them from undesirable surroundings, it also makes provision for their education and training.

 

In recognising the unique role of the Youth Court in balancing the legislative concerns for the welfare of the youth and its public duty to preserve law and order, The Honourable The Chief Justice Yong Pung How outlined the approach to be taken in his keynote address at the Subordinate Courts' Workplan 1997/1998 that:

 

"The complexity of youth crime requires a multi-prong approach. It has to incorporate elements of deterrence, incapacitation and rehabilitation. A balance will have to be struck between the need for rehabilitation and accountability for the offending behaviour. Restorative justice seeks to achieve this. We realise that we can never rely alone on laws and punishment to meet the challenge of youth crime. Effective family support and control can help to keep our youths out of crimes in the first place and equip them to lead a law-abiding life. Already this is being done by the Government through the Inter-Ministry Committee on Dysfunctional Families, Youth Delinquency and Drug Abuse. Similarly, on the Court's part, there is a communitarian approach to the treatment of youth offender. Through family conferencing, boot camps, peer group advisers, family care conferencing, we enlist the support and assistance of the community in reforming and rehabilitating the youth offender. We build on this approach through a blend of measures focusing not just on the offender but the victims as well."

 


 

Processes and Procedures

 

Beyond Parental Control 

Before the complaint is sworn, the Parent and Child will be attended to by a Social Worker from the Singapore Children's Society who will try to resolve the matter without the intervention of the Court. In the event that the parents still deem Court intervention necessary, the formal court proceedings to manage Beyond Parental Control (BPC) Cases will then commence. 

A complaint can be lodged at the Youth Court from 1.30pm to 4pm on Fridays, except public holidays. To lodge a complaint, the Parent is required to bring the Child along. In the event that the Parent is unable to do so, the Youth Court Judge may issue a warrant of arrest with no bail for the child to be brought to the Youth Court. 

The following documents will be required: 

  • Birth Certificate (either the original or photocopy) of the Child;
  • The Identity Card, if possible, of the Child; and
  • Where the Parents are divorced, the Custody and Access Order

 

What Will Happen when a Youth Fails to Attend Court?

If the whereabouts of the child or young person is unknown or the parent / guardian is unable to get him to attend Court, the Court may issue a Warrant of Arrest for the child or young person to be brought to the Youth Court.  

When the warrant is executed and the Beyond Parental Control (BPC) child is brought to Court, the judge will confirm that the parent / guardian is proceeding with the complaint before calling for a social report prepared by Child Welfare Officers from the Ministry of Social and Family Development. 

 


 

What Will Happen When A Youth is Arrested and Charged?

Case Flow of Youth Arrest Cases (YAC):

 

 

*Family Conferences are convened selectively upon the decision of the Judge. 

 


  

Power of the Court on Youth Arrest Cases (YAC) 

The Youth Court has the power to make orders for youths where an offence has been proved, or where the youth admits the facts constituting the offence under Section 44(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA). During this process, the Youth Court takes into consideration every individual offender's strengths and limitations to make the orders. In broad terms, the factors that the Youth Court considers when making the order include:

  • rehabilitation and reformation of the offender
  • removal of him/her from undesirable surroundings
  • promoting his/her education and welfare
  • compensation of victim(s) involved
  • protection of public
  • minimising the risk of further offending by the offender
  • punishment of offender 

 

The Youth Court is empowered with the following options to deal with a youth offender upon a finding of guilt under Section 44 of the CYPA:

 
Discharge the offender  
The offender may be granted an absolute or conditional discharge. An absolute discharge is rarely made for adult offenders and is never made for youth offenders. A conditional discharge is one where the offender is discharged on condition that he does not commit any offences within a prescribed period (maximum 12 months). The offender may be conditionally discharged upon his entering into a bond to be of good behaviour.
 
Commit the offender to the care of a relative of other fit person
The Court may commit the offender to the care of a relative or fit person for a specified period of time if it deems that the offender will be better cared for and supervised by that relative or fit person.
 
Offender's Parent or Guardian to execute a bond to exercise proper care and guardianship
This order is usually made in conjunction with a Probation Order. An appropriate monetary value ordered by the Judge will constitute the bond.
 
Community Service Order
The Court may require the offender to perform community service for a specified duration of time up to 240 hours. This order is usually made in conjunction with a Probation Order.
 
Probation Order
A probation order places the offender under the supervision of a Probation Officer from the Ministry of Social and Family Development for a period of not less than 6 months and not more than 3 years.
The Court may attach conditions to the probation order that it thinks necessary for securing the good conduct of the offender or preventing him from re-offending. Such additional conditions can include residence in Approved Institutions. 
An additional requirement for residence is normally made for youths who have an unsatisfactory home environment but who otherwise satisfy the usual requirements for probation. The maximum duration of residence at an Approved Institution for 12 months.
Probationers who are ordered to reside at an approved institution are permitted to work or pursue their education in schools outside the confines of the institution after an initial period of one month at the institution. The following institutions are gazetted as Approved Institutions: 
  • Singapore Boys Hostel (for males only)
  • Salvation Army Gracehaven (for both genders)
  • Pertapis Centre for Women and Girls (for Muslim females only)
The Court may also make an order of residence in a non-gazetted home if the pre-sentence report shows that the institution is prepared to accept the offender. The non-gazetted homes include:
  • Singapore Boy's Town (for males only)
  • The Tent (for non-Muslim females only)
  • AG Home (for non-Muslim females only)
  • Muhammadiyah Welfare Home (for Muslim males only)
Operationally, probation orders have been classified into 3 grades to cater for the varying intensity of risks and needs of the individual probationers. These are Administrative Probation, Supervised Probation and Intensive Probation. 
These orders may be made in addition to the probation order:
  • Commit the offender to the care of a relative or other fit person
  • Offender's Parent or Guardian to execute a bond to exercise proper care and guardianship
  • Community service order
  • Detention at a Place of Detention (if detention order is made with Probation order, detention will be up to 3 months)
  • Weekend Detention at a Place of Detention or Approved Institution (up to 26 weekends)
  • Payment of a fine, damages or costs  
 
Detention at a Place of Detention
The offender may be detained at the place of detention for a period of up to 6 months. The following are gazetted as Places of Detention: 
  • Singapore Boys Home (for males only)
  • Singapore Girl's Home (for females only)   
Under this order, offenders will be required to be resident at the Place of Detention for a specified period of time as ordered by the Court.  
These orders may be made in addition to the Detention at a Place of Detention order:
  • Offender's Parent or Guardian to execute a bond to exercise proper care and guardianship
  • Probation order (if detention order is made with Probation order, detention will be up to 3 months)  
 
Weekend Detention at a Place of Detention or Approved Institution 
The Court may order that the offender be detained in a place of detention or an approved institution over a specified number of weekends - up to 26 weekends. During the specified period, the offender is able to pursue his/her education or go to work and attend school during the weekdays. However they will be detained at Singapore Boys Home (for males only) or Singapore Girl's Home (for females only) during the weekends from 3pm on Saturday to 5pm on Sunday for the specified number of weekends.  
The following orders may be made in addition to the Weekend Detention order: 
  • Commit the offender to the care of a relative or other fit person
  • Offender's Parent or Guardian to execute a bond to exercise proper care and guardianship
  • Community service order
  • Probation order
  • Payment of a fine, damages or costs  
 
Youth Rehabilitation Centre
The Youth Court may commit offenders to a Youth Rehabilitation Centre. This option is usually meted for youths with pronounced delinquency. Youths who commit serious offences, exhibit a cavalier attitude towards community-based supervision or have strong associations with highly undesirable peers are normally sent to a Youth Rehabilitation Centre regime for a period of not more than 3 years.
This regime provides a structured and controlled environment by which to rehabilitate the offender. There are facilities in the Youth Rehabilitation Centres to cater either "in-house" or outside the institution depending on the offender's behaviour, to the offender's academic or vocational needs. Depending on their behaviour and response to the rehabilitation programmes, residents in these institutions may be granted home leave during weekends and may be allowed to return to their schools and employment after a period of initial stay, which is usually about 9 months.  
Both the voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) and the government manage the Youth Rehabilitation Centres. There are presently three Youth Rehabilitation Centres run by voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) which meet the specific rehabilitative needs of the offenders. These are:       
  • Salvation Army Gracehaven (SAGH) (for both non-Muslim males & females)
  • Muhammadiyah Welfare Home (MWH) (for Muslim males only)
  • Pertapis Centre for Women and Girls (PCWG) (for Muslim females only)
There are presently two Youth Rehabilitation Centres run by the Ministry of Social and Family Development. These are: 
  • Singapore Boys' Home (SBH) (for males only)
  • Singapore Girls' Home (SGH) (for females only)
Youths who are sent to the SBH or SGH exhibit a greater degree of delinquency and possess more risks factors as compared to those sent to SAGH, MWH and PCWG.  
 
Reformative Training Centre
The Prisons Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs runs the Reformative Training Centre. Offenders here do not enjoy the privilege of home-leave. Where the offender is between the ages of 14 and 16, or attained 16 years, and the Youth Court is satisfied that it is expedient with a view to his/her reformation that he/she should undergo a period of training in a reformative training centre, it may order him to be brought before a District Judge to be considered for reformative training. This order is normally made after the youth has been "breached" for unruly behaviour in a Youth Rehabilitation Centre. 
 
Payment of a fine, damages or costs
Offenders may be asked to make reparation to society by way of a fine or to the victim by an award of damages. This order is rarely made on its own but is normally coupled with a probation order. In the case of a Child (below 14 years old), the Parents / Guardians will be ordered to pay this on behalf of the Child, while in the case of a Young Person, the Parents / Guardians may be so ordered. Such an order will not be made against the Parents /Guardians if the Court is satisfied that the Parents / Guardians cannot be found or that they have not conduced to the commission of the offence by neglecting to exercise due care over the Child or Young Person.

 


 

What Will Happen When A Youth Breaches A Court Order?

 

Court-Ordered Probation Review  

Over and above the 6-monthly reviews, the Youth Court may decide to place selected probation cases for review very shortly after making the probation order. The period could be 1 to 3 months after the probation order. This is to ensure that such cases are very closely monitored and remedial actions will be taken, should the probationer manifest any intention not to cherish the opportunity to be rehabilitated.

 

BPC Cases on Statutory Supervision 

Unlike probation cases, Beyond Parental Control (BPC) statutory supervision orders are not subject to legislative review by the Youth Court. However, the Youth Court does review BPC cases from time to time if there is a need for close monitoring of the youth. If and when the pre-delinquent Child or Young Person fails to comply with an order of statutory supervision, the Social Worker from the Singapore Children's Society may institute a complaint in Court. The youth and his parents are given an opportunity to explain and respond to these complaints. The Court may – place the child in a Place of Safety pending a progress report.

The progress report will be considered by the Youth Court, which may make one of the following orders.

  • Make a fresh statutory Supervision order or extend the existing order, or
  • Order the youth to be sent to a Place of Safety up to a maximum of 3 years. 

 

Review Board

Residents' progress in the Place of Detention, Youth Rehabilitation Centre and Place of Safety regime are assessed at the meetings of the Review Board, a body constituted by the Minister of Social and Family Development to review such residents. Such meetings are held once a month. The Youth Court Judge is an ex officio member of this Review Board. The Director of Social Welfare, on the advice of the Review Board, may release the residents on licence after they have completed 12 months in the Youth Rehabilitation Centre or Place of Safety regime.  

 

Breaching residents in Place of Detention, Youth Rehabilitation Centre and Place of Safety  

Residents in the Place of Detention, Youth Rehabilitation Centre and Place of Safety may be breached for unruly behaviour. The test is whether the resident is so unruly a character that he/she cannot be so detained in the Place of Detention, Youth Rehabilitation Centre and Place of Safety. This could include incidents of bullying other residents, fighting, absconding etc. The manager of a Place of Detention, Youth Rehabilitation Centre and Place of Safety can initiate breach proceedings against a resident to the Youth Court. 

The resident is offered an opportunity to explain himself or engage a counsel to do so to the Youth Court. The Youth Court, if satisfied that there is justification for the breach action, will call for a progress report on the resident and fix the case for consideration before the Youth Court.  

If the Youth Court is satisfied that the Young Person is so unruly as to be unfit to reside at the present institution, it is empowered to mete out the following orders in accordance to Section 44(7) of the Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA):

  • Order the resident to be transferred to another Youth Rehabilitation Centre which the Court considers more suitable and detain the resident there for the unexpired period of detention; for example, an unruly female resident may be transferred from the Salvation Army Gracehaven to the Singapore Girls' Home.
  • If a resident is between 14 and 16 years of age, he/she may be brought before a District Judge for an order that he/she be sent to the Reformative Training Centre. 

However it is also open to the Youth Court if the case is appropriate to give the Young Person a stern warning with respect to his behaviour and direct him to continue his present detention.

 


 

 

 
The Youth Court, together with the Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) coordinates and brings together the formal and informal youth justice constituents, in the rehabilitation of the youth offender and youth-at-risk. It works out programmes for youths and their families with an emphasis to re-integrate the youth back to his/her family and community, in line with the Restorative Justice Model adopted by the Youth Justice System.
Personal and specialised attention is paid to each youth offender, his character, his family and environment for a holistic approach to rehabilitation. In addition, Youth Court, in its planning of restorative programmes, also looks at the larger issue of educating the general public and community on pertinent issues, which underscore delinquency and crime recidivism.
Programmes established should teach youth delinquents and offenders basic life skills, and afford them employability and self-sustenance without resorting to crime. In addition, the youth's family and community of care should be targeted as well. Thus, the Youth Court, CAPS and its constituent stakeholders actively seek to tap all available community resources as meaningful options that target the underlying causes of delinquency. This would result in a meaningful re-orientation of values and a decrease in the causes of recidivism. The approach would be able to equip young offenders and delinquents with the resources and life skills to embark on more constructive lifestyles.
The programmes of the Youth Court can be broadly divided into three categories: 
  • Reaching out to the Youth
  • Reaching out to the Community
  • Reaching out to the World

  


 
Reaching out to the Youth
The following programmes were established to impact the youths and families involved in the rehabilitation and reformation process:
  • Family Conferences
  • HEAL Conferences
  • Progress Presentation Review

 

Family Conferences

Family Conferences in the Youth Court can be convened for the following categories of cases:

       a) Youth Arrest Case (YAC)
       b) Youth Arrest Case: Victim Offender Mediation (HEAL)
       c) Beyond Parental Control (BPC)
       d) Care and Protection

Family conferences are convened to serve as a platform for the youth’s family, the community and the various external agencies (i.e. the youth’s school authorities, counsellor, probation officer, caseworker or social worker from the Homes (in some cases), psychologist, victim, the police etc.) to come together to collaborate in a manner which allows the multiple problems facing the youth and his family to be dealt with holistically for the benefit of the youth’s rehabilitation. Family conferences are also aimed at facilitating mandatory counselling for parents/guardians pertaining to future restoration and re-integration of the youth. Where strained relationships between the youth and parents/family members may impact rehabilitation, reconciliation can be facilitated during the family conference. Issues of family dysfunction can also be confronted while steps can then be agreed upon by the youth and family to reduce their acrimony. This can be further enhanced through the signing of a ‘Social Undertaking/Contract’ that captures the agreements between youth and family/school/other significant persons to take on certain behaviours that are pro-social and to abide by certain rules and regulations agreed upon during the Family Conference.

The philosophy of Family Conferencing for BPC is similar to that for offenders. It was introduced to:

  • strengthen family units
  • empower parents and the community to regain control of the youths
  • encourage the youths to take responsibility for their behaviour
  • reduce the placement of such youths in institutions accommodating offenders
  • reduce the likelihood of the youths committing an offence.

 

HEAL Conferences

Project Heal (ie Healing, Enriching And Linking), started in mid 2003, involving MSF Probation Services and the Juvenile Court then. Project HEAL is specifically targeted for victim-offender mediation. Anyone victimized (e.g. school officials representing schools in vandalism cases or victims of snatch theft etc.) might be requested to attend the Family Conference (HEAL).  In addition to exacting just compensation or apologies from the offender, the overall rehabilitation and restoration of the victim is of concern.  Thus, the victim is never coerced or cajoled into meeting the offender face-to-face, but rather is allowed to meet in whatever circumstances the victim feels would be most satisfying for him or her. Through various programmes, the victim and his family are then led into further restoration if needed. This can be in the form of referrals to relevant agencies for follow-up counselling where necessary.

 

Progress Presentation Review 

The Progress Presentation Review (PPR) is a mode of review of how the probationer/supervisee (“Youth”) has progressed under probation/supervision orders. It is conducted in a form of a presentation by the youth. The presentation highlights the youth’s progress over the 3-4 month of probation/supervision.   

It is intended to be an honest self-assessment of the youth’s own progress, supported by testimonials of adults who have had the opportunity to observe the youth’s progress. Self-reflection is the key process to help the youth gain greater insight over his circumstances, past choices and future direction. The PPR should also reflect learning of new skills and life changes. 

 


 

Reaching out to the Community

Youth Justice is not only a matter for the Youth Court but also involves the collaborative contributions of other Ministries & community agencies. The Youth Court, together with CAPS, also build interagency and community networks through conducting regular training and outreach programmes on youth court processes and serving as a liaison between the Youth Court and the community. 

The following programmes were established to engage and educate youths in the community and the public at large on issues related to youth crime and delinquency:

  • Public education and awareness
  • Outreach to Ministry of Education (MOE) professionals

 

Outreach to MOE professionals

Regular learning journeys are being conducted with school leaders, counsellors and Honorary Volunteer Special Constabulary Senior Officers (VSC). Most of the children and youths seen in the Youth Courts are school-going with issues stemming from committing offences, family dysfunction, and negative peer influences. The outreach also gives the visitors an understanding on their role as invited participants at Youth Court Family Conferences dealing with the students, and what types of Court orders can be made beyond a police arrest. Other topics shared are the Family and Juvenile Justice System as well as Restorative Justice.

 


 

Reaching Out To The World

The Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) proactively looks at the environment in order to develop new ways to deal with the modern challenges of delinquency. It actively participates in international forums to network and exchange experiences with other stakeholders and experts in the field.
 
 
Last updated on: 6/4/2015 6:41 PM

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