The current stand in Singapore is that evidence obtained through private entrapment is admissible in courts; as long as it not admitted “unfairly against the accused”. However, the phrase “unfairly against the accused” is very ambiguous in nature as it is hard define what unfairly means. In the paper entitled “Whether a Singapore Court has a Discretion to Exclude Evidence Admissible in Criminal Proceedings, “unfairly” was _____. Should illegally obtained evidence then be admissible in court? We proposed that they should not.
If we study the system used in UK, s 78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 states in s 78(1), “In any proceedings, the court may refuse to allow evidence on which the prosecution proposes to rely to be given if it appears to the court that, having regard to all the circumstances, including the circumstances in which the evidence was obtained, the admission of the evidence would have such an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceeding that the court ought not to admit it.” The problem that arises upon allowing private entrapment would be that it would be unfair in the trial for the accused. In [R v Sang], under s 78 of PACE, Secondly, to allow for private entrapment would mean that there is an abuse of process which claims that it is “the use of legal process to accomplish an unlawful purpose”. In the case of Latif, the defendants claimed that they had induced to commit the crime with which they were charged and hence, this was an abuse of process to institute criminal proceedings – evidence obtained such illegal means ought not to be admitted into the courts.
Lord Steyn, in the case of Latif, addresses this issue, “In this case the issue is whether, despite the fact that a fair trial was possible, the judge ought to have stayed the criminal proceedings on broader considerations of the integrity of the criminal justice system…” It is thus contradictory of the state to employ illegal means in upholding the law, because by doing so, it would be bringing the administration of justice into disrepute. This would be putting the integrity of the criminal justice system at stake. As a result, the public’s interest would be offended, and their faith and confidence in the legal system would falter as the legal system is not portraying a consistent behaviour. As Lord Steyn states in Latif, “It would be contrary to the public interest in the integrity of the criminal justice system that a trial should take place.” In the case of Hardwicke and Thwaites, the jury delivered its verdict of guilt in the case while providing their perception that such cases of private entrapment would threaten the administration of justice, “”The jury would like to say that the circumstances surrounding this case have made it very difficult for us to reach a decision.
Had we been allowed to take the extreme provocation into account we would undoubtedly have reached a different verdict.” Thus, we hold that illegally obtained evidence through private entrapment ought not to be admissible in the courts as the state would be implicitly permitting the breaking of the law in order to enforce the law – a perversion of the rule of law. It could also be said that allowing private entrapment could possibly undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system. When the courts start allowing for evidence obtained through private entrapment, it might be interpreted by the public that governmental enforcement agencies are not capable in gathering the evidence on their own.
If this school of thought were to be allowed to manifest, it would prove to be detrimental to our legal system should the public decide to things into their own hands. Like mentioned earlier, individuals within the society might take this opportunity to use entrapment as a means of achieving their own selfish goals. In the long run, it would not be beneficial for the State as our criminal justice system would be viewed as inconsistent and unpredictable, such that any random person along the street could be inciting others to commit a crime.
Instead of relying on private entrapment to convict the accused, the public could inform the relevant authorities should they come across suspicious occurrences or suspicious behaviour of the people around them. This would reduce the possibility that the public would take matters into their own hands. In addition, we are of the opinion that the State would have the resources available to fully investigate into the matter whereas the individual might have the difficulties in doing so. Should the suspicious activity be one that may prove to be life-threatening, it would also mean that the public is protected when the responsibility of capturing the offender lies within the hands of the law enforcement agent.
[ 1 ]. http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Abuse+of+Process [ 2 ].
 1 W.L.R. 104