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Asia Pac Psychiatry. 2013 Dec;5(4):344-51. doi: 10.1111/appy.12033. Epub 2013 Feb 25.

Forensic psychiatry in Singapore.

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Department of Psychological Medicine, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore; Department of General and Forensic Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health/Woodbridge Hospital, Singapore.


Singapore is a geographically small nation-state that has transformed itself from a third-world country to a developed nation after attaining political independence 46 years ago. The pace of change has been tremendous and mental health care is no exception. This paper provides an overview of mental health care and a review of key mental health legislation, including a National Mental Health Blueprint that was rolled out in 2007. On this background, the paper focuses on a description of forensic psychiatric services in Singapore. The role of the Department of Forensic Psychiatry at the Institute of Mental Health, which is the only forensic psychiatry department in the country, will be highlighted. Civil commitment and the treatment of unfit accused persons and insanity acquittees is reviewed. The role of forensic psychiatric assessments in the Singapore courts is examined. The application of the insanity and diminished responsibility defenses are reviewed. A trend is identified in the Singapore courts towards a more rehabilitation-focused sentencing approach and the role that forensic psychiatric assessments play in cases involving mentally disordered offenders is highlighted.


Singapore; forensic psychiatry; insanity defense; mental health act; therapeutic jurisprudence

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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