SINGAPORE: The Criminal Procedure (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill was introduced by the Ministries of Law and Home Affairs in Parliament on Wednesday (Jan 10).

“The Bill advances our criminal justice system and contains significant proposals aimed at (A) protecting the public by strengthening our levers to tackle crime, including serious s*xual crime, and (B) enhancing transparency, fairness and coherence in our criminal court processes,” the Ministries said.

Under it, police officers would be permitted to conduct warrantless searches on suspects in more situations and during arrests to take dangerous items away from them.

Updating and enhancing the powers of law enforcement officers—including powers of arrest, search and investigation— would serve to “better equip the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to combat crime and result in greater operational efficiency,” the bill states.

Police would be allowed to conduct a search without a warrant in situations “when they have reason to believe that the relevant evidence is in the possession or power of a suspect of an arrestable offence.”

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For the moment, if an officer has reason to believe that a person would not, or is unlikely to, produce relevant evidence when presented with a production order, the officer may search without a warrant.

But whether a person would comply with a production order can’t always be accurately determined at the outset, which could cause delays in searches and the opportunity to tamper with evidence.

With the proposed bill, police can search suspects at the point of arrest so they can remove dangerous items in the possession of suspects, including razor blades and needles.

The new bill may be read in full here.

If passed, it empowers police to compel suspects to undergo a forensic medical examination, including taking DNA swabs or blood samples, if deemed relevant. Accused persons who refuse to comply will be charged with an offence, with penalties laid out in the bill.

A harsher sentencing option has also been put forth in the bill for dangerous offenders who commit violent or s*x crimes. These include new minimum jail terms and detention beyond jail for life.

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“There is no downside to this amendment because if they search and they find the evidence, or if they do not find the evidence, no one is worse off.

And, if challenged, the police will show you why they reasonably suspected the person to have the evidence. This would make things easier for the police and law enforcement agencies on a day-to-day basis,” CNA quotes Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam. /TISG

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