Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore

Last updated on March 11, 2019

In Singapore, some offences are arrestable in nature, i.e. an arrest can be made without the need for a warrant when the police officer reasonably suspects a man of committing a serious offence. Such offences include rape, robbery, theft, drug consumption or causing serious hurt.

For non-arrestable offences however, warrants will have to be made out to allow the police to make an arrest. For example, when a police report is made regarding a case of voluntarily causing hurt, the police will conduct investigations first before deciding whether to issue a warrant of arrest.

The police will use reasonable force to make an arrest. Handcuffs may be employed. Additionally, the person being arrested has the right to ask for identification of the police officer making the arrest and also for the reason of arrest, but only when it is practical to do so.

The accused may be searched upon arrest. Women must be searched by women, according to section 83 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Upon arrival at the police station or detention centre, the accused is allowed to consult a lawyer while under police custody within a reasonable time, in accordance with Article 9 of the Constitution. Family members may also be contacted through reasonable means.

However, these requests may be refused if they interfere with investigations. The accused will usually be detained for 48 hours at most, but police can obtain a Magistrate’s order to extend the custody.

The police may require the person to make either a witness statement or a notice statement. A notice statement is required when police have decided to press charges against the accused. Before the police requests for a notice statement, a notice regarding the charge will be given to the accused in writing and read out to him:

“You have been charged with [or informed that you may be prosecuted for] (set out the charge).

Do you want to say anything about the charge that was just read to you? If you keep quiet now about any fact or matter in your defence and you reveal this fact or matter in your defence only at your trial, the judge may be less likely to believe you. This may have a bad effect on your case in court.

Therefore it may be better for you to mention such fact or matter now. If you wish to do so, what you say will be written down, read back to you for any mistakes to be corrected and then signed by you.”

In accordance with section 23 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the accused person has the right to remain silent after the notice is read out to him. However, an adverse inference may be drawn from such silence. In other words, the police may infer guilt from his refusal to give a statement.

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