Fewer youths arrested for theft, rioting compared to last year

Drop credited to engagement schemes and focus on youth crime in recent years

Youth crime rates for the most common offences have tumbled by more than a third in a year.

Police arrested 584 people aged seven to 19 for crimes including theft and rioting between January and March, down from 935 during the same period last year.

They said the drop was due to the success of youth engagement schemes.

The largest reduction was in the number of arrests for "other thefts", a category that includes stealing valuables in public.

These fell by 46 per cent from 122 to 66.

The tally of arrests for shop theft dropped by 24 per cent to 168 and the rioting figures recorded a tiny decrease from 63 to 62.

The statistics were released yesterday at a community event for the Delta League, a soccer competition that keeps at-risk youths meaningfully occupied during the school holidays.

The league was set up by officers from Clementi Police Division, which won a record seventh Best Land Division award last year.

Its organising committee chairman, Deputy Superintendent of Police Justin Wong, said: "Though the number of youths arrested for overall crime has fallen over the past few years, the police will continue to commit time and effort to work closely with the community and the stakeholders to bring the crime rate even lower."

Dr Carol Balhetchet, director of youth services at the Singapore Children's Society, said the decrease may be the result of a larger focus on youth crime in recent years.

"Many community agencies have started youth programmes," she said. "We want to engage the youths before they get into trouble with the police, or go to court."

About 800 young people - including those who took part in this year's Delta League and members of the National Police Cadet Corps - converged on the Orchard Road shopping district for yesterday's event.

Their aim was to conduct a simple crime-risk survey of retailers and the public and to spread crime prevention messages.

The young people rallied the public to safeguard their personal belongings by asking people to sign a pledge.

Yesterday's event was organised by the police and the National Crime Prevention Council, in conjunction with the Great Singapore Sale, which ends on July 28.