Written Answer by Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, to Parliamentary Question on Breakdown on Number of Persons of Unsound Mind Detained under Section 252 of Criminal Procedure Code
05 Jan 2021 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Mr Leon Perera (Member of Parliament for Aljunied)
To ask the Minister for Law (a) in the past three years, how many persons of unsound mind have been detained under section 252 of the Criminal Procedure Code in (i) a psychiatric institution (ii) prison (iii) the custody of a friend or relative or (iv) other places; (b) what are the respective lengths of their detention; (c) what are the considerations of the (i) psychiatrists and (ii) Ministers in evaluating their suitability for release; and (d) whether severity of the act committed is relevant to their evaluations.
- In 2018, 2019 and 2020, two accused persons found by the courts to have committed the acts alleged were acquitted by operation of section 84 of the Penal Code (Act of person of unsound mind), and were then ordered by the Minister for Law to be confined in a psychiatric institution under section 252(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (“CPC”).
- Of these two persons, one was subsequently discharged pursuant to section 256 of the CPC, after around 2 years and 6 months of detention. The other person has been detained for around 2 years and 6 months, as of 4 January 2021.
- At least once every six months, persons who are confined under section 252 of the CPC in a psychiatric institution or prison, and persons who are in the care and custody of a relative or friend under section 255 of the CPC, will be visited by two visitors from a psychiatric institution, to ascertain their state of mind. The visitors are persons appointed by the Minister for Health for the psychiatric institution to discharge various statutory duties, including conducting such patient evaluations. One of the two visitors must be a medical practitioner. The visitors would then make a special report to the Minister for Law on the person’s state of mind.
- The principal officer of the psychiatric institution, who is the Chairman of its medical board, and the two visitors will also inform the Minister for Law whether the person may be discharged without danger of injuring himself or any other person. In making their assessment, they may consider various factors, including the following: a. The nature of the mental disorder or illness; b. The intensity and frequency of violent episodes, whether in the past or during confinement; c. The person’s response to treatment; d. Whether the person shows insight into his or her own psychiatric condition; and e. Whether the person has family and/or social support in the event of their discharge.
- If the principal officer and two visitors certify that the person may be discharged without danger of injuring himself or any other person, the Minister for Law may order him to be discharged. In determining whether the person is fit for discharge, the Minister will consider the two visitors’ special report and the assessment of the principal officer and two visitors, and may also consider other factors such as the nature and severity of the act committed.
Last updated on 05 Jan 2021