Overall crime rate down in 2017, but Internet love scams, outrage of modesty cases a concern: MHA

The rise in the cases of outrage of modesty, especially on public transport and at public entertainment outlets, along with an increase in Internet love scams, have become a source of concern for authorities. ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

SINGAPORE - While the overall crime rate fell last year (2017), the rise in the cases of outrage of modesty, especially on public transport and at public entertainment outlets, along with an increase in Internet love scams, have become a source of concern for the authorities.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said this on Thursday (Feb 1), while giving an overview of the Republic's safety and security situation for 2017.

The MHA's statement comes ahead of the Home Team departments releasing their annual statistics reports in the coming week.

The ministry said that crime "remained low" with the overall crime rate falling last year, compared to 2016.

The overall crime rate per 100,000 population was 588 cases in 2016, a drop from 611 in 2015.

In 2016, there were 248 cases of violent and serious property crimes, along with 14,127 cases of theft and related crimes.

The MHA said on Thursday that both categories registered a significant decrease in 2017.

Despite the improvements there, the MHA flagged the rise in Internet love scams last year as an area of concern. In 2016, there were 636 cases of Internet love scams, a 65.2 per cent increase over 385 cases in 2015.

The MHA said that outrage of modesty cases also grew in 2017. This is in line with the trend for the first nine months of 2017, which saw 1,168 cases reported - an increase of 194 cases, or 19.9 per cent - compared with the same period in 2016.

And although there was a decrease in the number of e-commerce scam cases last year, it remains a source of concern due to the high number of reported cases, the ministry said.

On the drug front, the local situation remained stable, said the MHA, adding that "Singapore remains relatively drug-free, even as regional and global drug situations continue to worsen".

In 2016, the Central Narcotics Bureau arrested a total of 3,265 drug abusers, a 2 per cent decrease from the 3,343 offenders arrested in 2015.

However, the MHA noted that the proportion of young drug abusers among new abusers remained high in 2017.

With regard to road safety, the MHA said there was a decrease in the number of fatal accidents and fatalities, and fewer accidents related to drink driving, speeding and the running of red lights.

But there were more traffic accidents involving elderly pedestrians who jaywalked, and motorcyclists continued to be over-represented in traffic accidents.

Meanwhile, the number of fire incidents in Singapore was the lowest in 40 years, and there was a drop in the number of fire injuries.

But fires involving electric scooters, electric bicycles and other personal mobility devices remain a concern, the MHA said.

In terms of immigration offences, there was a fall in the total number of immigration offenders arrested. The number of harbourers and employers of immigration offenders arrested also dropped, MHA added.

The MHA also gave an update on SGSecure, the national movement tasked to get Singaporeans involved in the fight against terror.

Between its launch in September 2016 and until the end of last year, 55 Emergency Preparedness Days have been held to prepare residents for a terrorist attack and to equip them with life-saving skills like CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and the use of the AED (Automated External Defibrillator).

Close to 300,000 house visits have also been made to engage residents on how they can protect themselves and their families.

The Home Team, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, reached out to over 170 secondary schools, through mobile exhibitions and school assembly talks, the MHA said.

Exercises were also held in places such as Clarke Quay, Sentosa, and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.

The MHA said more than 1.3 million devices are now equipped with the SGSecure app, which allow users to subscribe to alerts based on their location, and to receive news alerts on terrorist incidents.

"The Home Team will continue to build on this momentum, to sustain the awareness and raise the preparedness of our people and institutions to face the terrorism threat together," MHA said.

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