19 per cent drop in total number of immigration offenders arrested in 2014: ICA

The Singapore Immigrations and Customs checkpoint at Tuas Second Link. There was a 19 per cent drop in the total number of immigration offenders arrested in 2014 compared to the year before, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said in its annua
The Singapore Immigrations and Customs checkpoint at Tuas Second Link. There was a 19 per cent drop in the total number of immigration offenders arrested in 2014 compared to the year before, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said in its annual statistics report on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - There was a 19 per cent drop in the total number of immigration offenders arrested in 2014 compared to the year before, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said in its annual statistics report on Tuesday.

Among them, the number of illegal immigrants arrested dropped about 42 per cent from 600 to 350 in 2014 and the number of overstayers arrested dropped about 12 per cent from 1,930 to 1,690 last year.

Despite the improved situation, ICA cautioned that there is a need to remain vigilant to keep Singapore's borders secure.

"Immigration offenders (IO) pose potential law and order problems for our society and we must take a tough stance against them," the report said.

"ICA adopts a multi-pronged approach in tackling the IO situation through deterrent laws, enforcing stringent border checks, and conducting inland enforcement."

It added that every Singaporean has a role to play in ensuring the safety and security of Singapore.

It urged the public not to employ or harbour immigration offenders, noting that the number of harbourers arrested in 2014 has increased slightly by 7 per cent to 250 while the number of employers arrested for hiring immigration offenders has dipped about 29 per cent compared to 2013.

ICA stressed that while it takes the lead in the enforcement of all immigration-related offences, it is also working closely with other enforcement agencies such as Police and the Ministry of Manpower, as well as community groups and volunteers to crack down on immigration offences.

On contraband cases, ICA said the total number of contraband cases detected at the checkpoints dropped by 6 per cent from 99,700 in 2013 to 93,380 in 2014.

-- GRAPHICS: ICA

It reminded travellers to check with the relevant authorities if the items that they intend to bring into Singapore require permits or licence or are dutiable items.

Highlighting the increasing popularity of online purchases in Singapore, ICA noted that some buyers exploit the convenience of online purchase to buy prohibited/controlled items and dutiable items online and have them sent via post in order to evade detection. ICA warned that all cases detected will be referred to the relevant agencies for investigations and those found guilty will face stiff penalties.

On offences related to marriage of convenience, 170 persons were convicted in 2014, a drop of 40 per cent as compared to 2013. The penalties for the offence are a fine not exceeding S$10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, or both. ICA urged members of public to report any suspected case of marriage of convenience to ICA at 1800-391-6150.