Singapore Budget 2015: Home Affairs Ministry sets up new cybercrime unit

SINGAPORE - The Government will be beefing up its capabilities to deal with the rise of cybercrime by establishing a new Cybercrime Command, Minister in Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs (MHA) S. Iswaran said on Friday.

The new unit will be located within the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and specialise in cyber-investigations, digital forensics and cybercrime policy, said Mr Iswaran during the MHA portion of the Committee of Supply debate.

Speciaists in cybercrime investigations, like digital forensic officers, will also be deployed at each of the six major Police divisions across the island by the end of 2015, he said. "This will ensure that our frontline units are equipped with the necessary skills to investigate cybercrime cases."

The number of cybercrime cases recorded has grown significantly, said Mr Iswaran, a point that was highlighted by Mr Edwin Tong (Moulmein-Kallang GRC) and Vikram Nair (Sembawang GRC) during the debate over MHA's Budget for the year on Friday.

These include cases of cheating through e-commerce, like scammers pretending to sell goods on online platforms that were never delivered. Cases of internet love scams and cyber-extortion are also growing, he said.

MHA will find more ways to partner the community online, added Mr Iswaran.

"We need to create new platforms and enabling technologies to make it easier for Singaporeans, especially a younger generation who are tech savvy, to come forward to work with and help the Home Team," he said.

These efforts include setting up online portals like "CrimeStopper" and the Traffic Police's "E-Feedback on Road Users," to facilitate tip-offs from members of the public.

Police will also work with Interpol's new Digital Crime Centre, located in Singapore, to tackle cybercrime, he added.

On the issue of drugs, Senior Minister of State Masagos Zulkifli said there was a worrying trend of a growing proportion of young drug users.

Last year, 34 per cent of drug abusers arrested were below the age of 30, up from 29 per cent in 2010. Among new abusers arrested, two-thirds were below the age of 30, up from half in 2010.

Mr Masagos reiterated Singapore's zero-tolerance stance on drugs, and said that the Taskforce on Youths and Drugs, which he co-chairs, will release its recommendations and findings later this year.

"The recommendations will build on our current comprehensive approach to tackling drug abuse among youths," he said. "This comprises preventive education, effective enforcement, and early, targeted intervention for youth abusers."

yanliang@sph.com.sg