Everything About the New Law Whereby Dangerous Offenders Might Be Jailed Indefinitely


Singapore has introduced a groundbreaking law aimed at preventing dangerous offenders from posing further threats to society.

The law encompasses two key components: Sentence for Enhanced Public Protection (SEPP) and changes for conducting Forensic Medical Examinations (FMEs).

Here’s what this is, simplified for you.

Understanding SEPP

With reference to a second reading on 5 February 2024 by Minister for Law K Shanmugam on Criminal Procedure Bill 2024, SEPP is a new sentence which can be imposed by the Court.

This initiative targets individuals aged 21 and above who are convicted of grave offenses such as attempted murder, rape, and sexual penetration of minors, ensuring they are not automatically released upon completing their standard jail terms if they are still considered a risk.

How SEPP Operates

Here’s how it works: courts have the discretion to choose between a conventional sentence and SEPP.

Should SEPP be applied, a minimum term of imprisonment for the offender will be imposed by the court.

This could be between five to twenty years; it depends on the case lah. The court will ensure that an appropriate sentence will be chosen based on risk assessments by Institute of Mental health (IMH) among other evaluations.

At the end of the jail term, an assessment will be done to determine if the offender can be released.

This assessment will be done by the Minister for Home Affairs (MHA), alongside a board of experts including lawyers, psychiatrists, and psychologists.

If the offender is deemed to be suitable for release, he will still be subjected to stringent monitoring.

Meaning, he could still be required to attend mandatory counselling and adhere to curfews. He will continue being assessed until all the imposed conditions can be removed.

However, if the offender is found to remain a threat to the public, he will have to be imprisoned beyond the minimum term. The minister will then do an annual review of the offender until he is found to be suitable for release.

Purpose of the Implementation of SEPP

Some offenders are at a risk of repeating their offences after being released from prison.

Mr Shanmugam provided an example of a case involving an offender who had been sentenced for 19 years due to raping his 6-year-old daughter in 2013. He was released after 12 years and lived with his sister and granddaughters.

In 2015, he assaulted one of the girls and she moved out. In 2017, he sexually assaulted her younger sister. He committed the offence barely two years after he was released. In 2022, he was sentenced to 20 years of Preventive Detention.


Without SEPP, even if there is a high risk of repeated offence, the offender will be released based on his jail term.

However, with SEPP, the assessment would prevent the offences from reoccurring, thus making society a safer place.

SEPP also encourages rehabilitation. Mr Shanmugam highlighted that an offender sentenced to SEPP will likely be more motivated to take rehabilitation seriously so as to not tarnish his chances of being released from prison during his first sentencing.

Revisions in Forensic Medical Examination Protocols (FMEs)

The law also revises the approach to Forensic Medical Examinations (FMEs), authorising police to conduct searches without a warrant in cases where it’s believed that the suspect possesses crucial evidence.

The police can also mandate FMEs for accused individuals even if they do not consent to it. Reasonable force can be applied for FMEs such as taking hair samples, excluding intimate body parts, or invasive procedures.


It will be considered as an offence if the accused person refuses an FME. However, reasonable excuses are allowed. An example provided was if the accused person has haemophilia and giving a blood sample could endanger his life.

Do note that this rule does not apply to victims.

Consent is required for FMEs unless delays will result in loss of evidence or if the victim is not able to provide consent in reasonable time. For example, if the victim is in a state of coma, the FMEs can be conducted.

Furthermore, there are a strict set of regulations to ensure that the FME is conducted safely. For example, only qualified medical professionals can conduct physical medical examinations and procedures.