Rise in scams led to higher 2019 crime rate: MHA

Drug abuse, road accidents involving elderly also flagged by ministry as areas of concern

While the Republic has been ranked first in law and order in a Gallup survey of 142 territories, there remains several trends of concern in drug abuse, road traffic accidents and scams, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) yesterday.

Home Team agencies are expected this month to announce the annual statistics on the safety and security situation for 2019.

A Global Law and Order report by American analytics company Gallup released in November gave Singapore the highest score for 2018, ahead of Norway, Switzerland and Finland.

However, the overall crime rate increased slightly last year mainly because of an increase in scams - one of the areas of concern that remain, said the ministry.

The proportion of new drug abusers also remained high last year, despite a decrease in the number of heroin abusers arrested.

This was due to more of them being arrested for abusing new psychoactive substances and methamphetamine, also known as Ice.

MHA also said the number of road traffic accidents involving elderly pedestrians went up significantly.

There was a rise in the number of red-light running accidents as well.

Speeding-related accidents and accidents involving motorcycles increased slightly, said MHA.

A sharp rise was recorded in the number of fires involving personal mobility devices (PMDs) last year.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force said last December that there were 73 PMD-related fires in the first nine months of the year - the highest in five years.

 
 

Following a spate of PMD-related fires last year, the Government brought forward by six months a deadline requiring PMDs to be certified safe, to July 1 this year.

Meanwhile, the rising number of scams led to an increase in the overall crime rate last year. MHA did not elaborate on the types of scams.

Outrage-of-modesty cases are still areas of concern, said MHA, without providing detailed figures.

However, there were some positive trends seen last year, such as a fall in the number of cases of motor-vehicle and related theft, snatch theft, robbery and housebreaking.

Road traffic accidents resulting in fatalities, as well as the number of such fatalities, also saw a decline. So did the number of drink-driving accidents, said MHA.

The drug situation remains under control, despite a "challenging global and regional drug situation", with the overall recidivism rate among former offenders remaining low and stable.

 
 

There was a fall in the number of immigration offenders arrested and in contraband cases detected at Singapore checkpoints.

Fires in residential premises and non-emergency and false-alarm medical calls also fell, thanks to the SCDF's public education efforts, said MHA.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 05, 2020, with the headline 'Rise in scams led to higher 2019 crime rate: MHA'. Print Edition | Subscribe