Police Investigation Process in Singapore

Last updated on June 19, 2010

Featured image for the "Police Investigation Process in Singapore" article. It features a man sitting in a investigation room.

When does a Police Investigation Start?

Police investigations usually start when they receive information about the alleged offence. What happens subsequently depends on the type of offence in question, meaning whether the offence is arrestable or non-arrestable.

Types of Investigation which Affect the Police’s Powers of Investigation 

Arrestable cases are those in which the police can arrest without a warrant of arrest. The Criminal Procedure Code is the statute which governs all the police’s powers of investigation. It mandates the police to investigate the facts of the case as soon as practicable, and try to find the offender, arresting him if appropriate.

Conversely, the police are not duty-bound to conduct investigations in non-arrestable cases, as they are conferred the discretion to investigate or refer the informant to a magistrate, or await an order to investigate. The informant refers to the person who gave information about an offence to an authorised person, which includes a police officer.

In arrestable cases, police officers will enjoy special investigative powers. These powers include the power to issue a written order for the production of any document or thing where it is necessary or desirable for the investigation. If the court has reason to believe that said person will refuse to adhere to the order, the court can issue a search warrant to retrieve the document or thing.

The court can also issue a search warrant if it is unknown who possesses the document or thing, or if the court considers that a general or specific search or inspection will aid the investigation.

Other Powers of Investigation 

Other powers include the power to require the attendance of witnesses. Failure of attendance may result in the the police officer reporting the matter to the Magistrate, who may issue:

  1. A warrant to order the person to attend;
  2. The power to orally examine them and record their statements; and
  3. The power to search places for documents or things necessary for the investigation.

These powers may be exercised for non-arrestable cases, but they will require an order of the Public Prosecutor or Magistrate.

Not Sure What To Do Next?

Get a 20-minute phone call with a lawyer for only $59

Accused Person’s Rights During Arrest 

How arrests have to be conducted are stipulated by the Criminal Procedure Code as well.

For arrests without a warrant, an accused person can only be detained for a maximum period of 48 hours from the time of the arrest.

For arrests with a warrant, the accused person must be brought to court without unnecessary delay. For any type of arrest, Article 9(3) of the Constitution entitles the accused to know the basis of his arrest. It also allows him to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.

However, it is crucial to note that the suspect is not entitled to be informed of the constitutional right to legal counsel. Moreover, the time of access to legal counsel is uncertain, since the police do not have to give the suspect access to legal advice upon arrest, or before they take his statements.

In fact, Article 9(3) of the Constitution is observed as long as the suspect is given access to legal counsel “within a reasonable time after his arrest”. Cases such as Public Prosecutor v Leong Siew Chor [2006] 3 SLR(R) 290 and Jasbir Singh v Public Prosecutor [1994] 1 SLR(R) 782show that a delay of 19 days in the former and 2 weeks in the latter were deemed reasonable by the court.

The Court of Appeal case of James Raj s/o Arokiasamy v Public Prosecutor [2014] 3 SLR 750 reiterated that the right of access to counsel would be one available within a “reasonable time”, and that an allowance for police investigations and procedure was meant to be taken incorporated in this timespan.

Taking of Statements

The Criminal Procedure Code also provides for the taking of statements by the police, and it appears to prescribe two types of statements.

Witness statements

The first type of statement is governed by section 22 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which allows the police to examine orally any person whom he believes to have knowledge of the facts and circumstances of the case under investigation.

The examined person is bound to state the truth about the facts of the case, but the accused need not mention things that might expose him to a criminal charge. Such a statement made by the person is the witness statement.

These statements can be taken anytime during the police investigation. The procedural requirements of this statement are as follows: the statement made by the person must be in writing, must be read to him, and must be signed by him.

Cautioned statements

The second type of statements taken would be Cautioned Statements. This generally occurs after the arrest of the accused, before the accused is formally charged in court.

The procedure regarding such statements is as such:

  1. the investigating officer has to officially set out the charge the accused is facing and explain it to him.
  2. The accused will then be asked if he wishes to say anything regarding the charge.
  3. Anything said from then on in answer to the charge, or any silence or refusal to make a statement, must be recorded by the investigating officer.

This is the Cautioned Statement, which will have to be in writing and read back to the accused, who will have to sign it. It is compulsory for a copy of the statement to be given to the accused.

It is important to note that if the accused does not give such a statement and states his defence for the first time at trial, this might make the judge less likely to believe him at trial. Nonetheless, how material such omissions are in trial ultimately depends on all the circumstances of the case.

Inadmissibility of statements in court

It is important to note that any of such statements will be inadmissible in court if they were obtained under any inducement, threat or promise.

Do not panic if you have to undergo a police investigation. The police’s powers are clearly regulated by law. It is important to know your constitutional rights during such an investigation, such as being told of the basis of your arrest, along with access to legal counsel.

However, when you receive access to legal counsel is uncertain, and depends on the length police investigations and procedures.

This article was written by Tay Rui Lin

Arrest and Investigation
  1. How to Write a Letter of Representation to AGC in Singapore
  2. What is Entrapment and is It Legal in Singapore?
  3. Juvenile Crime: What If Your Child is Arrested in Singapore?
  4. Police Investigation Process in Singapore
  5. Arrest Warrant Issued Against You in Singapore: What to Do
  6. Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
  7. Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
  8. What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
  9. Can the Public Make a Citizen's Arrest in Singapore?
  10. What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
  11. "Right to Remain Silent" to Singapore Police: Does It Exist?
  12. Police Custody in Singapore: What You Should Know
  13. Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
  14. Penalties for Lying to the Authorities in Singapore
  15. Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  16. Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
  17. Extradition: What If I Flee After Committing Crime in Singapore
  1. The Essential Guide to Bail and Personal Bonds in Singapore
  1. What is Private Prosecution?
  2. Magistrate’s Complaints, Private Summons and Private Prosecutions in Singapore
  3. Prosecutorial Discretion in Singapore
  4. Compounding or Composition of Offences in Singapore
  5. Plea Bargaining in Singapore: All You Need to Know
During Criminal Proceedings
  1. What is Acquittal & How Can One Be Acquitted in Singapore?
  2. Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
  3. Claiming Trial as an Accused
  4. Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
  5. The Defence of Unsound Mind in Singapore: What is It?
  6. Gag Orders in Singapore: Whose Identity Can be Protected?
  7. Mitigation Plea: How to Plead for Leniency in Court in Singapore
After Criminal Proceedings
  1. Recidivism: What Happens If You Reoffend in Singapore?
  2. Guide to Filing a Criminal Appeal in Singapore
  3. Criminal Motion: What is It and How to File One in Singapore
  4. Guide to Filing a Criminal Revision in Singapore
  5. Presidential Clemency in Singapore
  6. Repatriation or Deportation from Singapore: How Does It Work?
  7. Criminal Records in Singapore
  8. Visiting a Loved One in Prison or On Death Row in Singapore
  9. Getting Parole (Early Prison Release) in Singapore
Types of Sentences After Committing an Offence
  1. How Long Is Life Imprisonment in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  2. Corrective Training and Its Consequences in Singapore
  3. Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
  4. Probation: Eligibility and Whether It Leaves a Criminal Record
  5. How Can Adult Offenders Get Probation in Singapore?
  6. Reformative Training in Singapore: When Will It be Ordered?
  7. Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
  8. Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
  9. 7 Detention Orders in Singapore: When Will They be Ordered?
  10. Day Reporting Order: Eligibility and Offender's Obligations
Being a Victim
  1. Ragging and Bullying: Their Penalties and What Victims Can Do
  2. Laws Protecting Informers/Whistleblowers in Singapore
  3. Counterfeit Medicine/Health Products: Redress for Victims in Singapore
  4. Using Your Right to Self-Defence When Attacked in Singapore
  5. Compensation for Crime Victims in Singapore: How to Obtain
Offences Against the Human Body
  1. Voluntarily Causing Hurt Penalties in Singapore (Non-Arrestable)
  2. Murder vs Culpable Homicide in Singapore (and Penalties)
  3. Is Suicide Illegal in Singapore? Will I Be Punished for Trying?
  4. Kidnapping Scam: Penalties & Responding to a ‘Kidnap Call/Text'
Sexual Offences
  1. Rape Laws in Singapore and How Offenders Can Be Punished
  2. Sexual Misconduct in Singapore: Offences and What Victims Can Do
  3. Falsely Accused of Rape in Singapore: What to Do
  4. Incest and Family Sexual Abuse: Penalties and Victim Protection
  5. How are Sexual Offenders with Special Needs Penalised?
  6. Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
  7. Consent in Sexual Offences in Singapore and What Victims Can Do
  8. Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
  9. What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
  10. What is the Law on Sexting in Singapore?
  11. Revenge Porn: What If Your Nudes are Leaked in Singapore?
  12. Crime of Voyeurism in Singapore (Penalties and Defences)
  13. Date Rape: What to Do If Your Drink Has Been Unlawfully Spiked?
  14. STDs: Can I Go to the Police If a Partner Infected Me in Singapore?
Vice-Related Offences
  1. Singapore's Legal Smoking Age & Common Smoking Offences
  2. Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
  3. Legal Drinking Age and Drinking-Related Laws in Singapore
  4. Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
  5. Child Pornography in Singapore: Offences and Penalties
  6. Laws on Procuring Sex Workers & Sexual Services in Singapore
  7. Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
  8. Gambling Legally (In Public or Online) in Singapore
  9. The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
Property Offences
  1. Penalties for Committing Theft in Singapore
  2. Committing Robbery in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
  3. Penalties for Dishonest Misappropriation of Property in Singapore
  4. Vandalism Laws: Penalties for Damaging Property in Singapore
  5. Criminal Trespass in Singapore: What Happens If You’re Caught?
  6. Penalties for Littering and Killer Litter Offences in Singapore
  1. Penalties for Cheating/Scamming and What Victims Can Do
  2. Penalties for Impersonating Someone and Victim Redress
  3. Singapore Fake News Laws: Guide to POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)
  4. Laws and Penalties for Doxxing in Singapore (With Examples)
White-Collar Crimes
  1. Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) in Singapore: What is It?
  2. All You Need to Know About Corruption in Singapore
  3. Anti-Money Laundering Laws and You
  4. 5 Things You Need to Know about Insider Trading
  5. Dishonest Assistance and Knowing Receipt: The Case of David Rasif
Road Offences
  1. Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
  2. DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
  3. What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
  4. Road Rage: What is It and How are Offenders Sentenced in Singapore
  5. Penalties for Dangerous Driving for Singapore Drivers
  6. Fatal Traffic Accidents: Are Drivers Always Punished?
  7. Guide to E-Scooter and PMD Laws for Singapore Riders
  8. Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
Animal-Related Offences
  1. Is It Illegal to Feed Stray Animals in Singapore?
  2. Singapore Animal Abuse Offences, Penalties & How to Report
Offences Relating to Public Peace and Good Order
  1. Radicalisation and Terror Attack-Related Penalties in Singapore
  2. Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore
  3. Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
  4. Racial Enmity: Sections 298 and 298A Penal Code Explained
  5. Religious Cults in Singapore: Are they Illegal? Penalties & More
  6. Penalties for Financing Terrorist Operations in Singapore
Gang and Riot-related Offences
  1. Penalties for Unlawful Assembly and Rioting in Singapore
  2. Is Joining a Gang Illegal in Singapore?: Being Recruited and Penalties
  3. Organised Crimes: Penalties/Orders Syndicates Face in Singapore
Marriage-Related Offences
  1. What are Sham Marriages and Are They Illegal in Singapore?
Certificate of Clearance
  1. How Do You Apply for a Certificate of Clearance in Singapore?
Other Criminal Offences
  1. Here are the Penalties for Committing Forgery in Singapore
  2. Arson and Fire-Related Offences and Their Penalties in Singapore
  3. Laws on Prohibited, Replica and Self-Defence Weapons
  4. Expats Charged With Offences in Singapore: What to Expect
  5. What are the Penalties for Hiring Phantom Workers in Singapore?
  6. Penalties for Illegal Immigration and Overstaying in Singapore
  7. Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore