More tickets issued in 2020 for smoking in HDB common areas, high-rise littering

The higher figures were due to changes in enforcement and resource deployment. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The number of tickets issued for smoking in HDB common areas more than doubled in 2020 because of tighter enforcement resulting from increased public feedback.

There were 1,090 tickets issued for smoking in areas such as common corridors, staircases and lift lobbies, an increase of 112 per cent from 2019, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a statement on Thursday (Feb 4).

The number of high-rise littering acts captured on camera increased by 80 per cent in 2020, said NEA.

It added that the total provisional figure for high-rise littering offences was 1,120.

The higher figures were due to changes in enforcement and resource deployment, in response to an increase in public feedback during the Covid-19 pandemic, with more people working from home.

Public feedback on high-rise littering and smoking went up by 45 per cent and 25 per cent respectively in 2020, said NEA.

One of its deployment changes was an increase in camera surveillance on high-rise littering by over 50 per cent - from 1,700 locations in 2019 to more than 2,700 in 2020.

The overall figure for all types of littering and smoking offences, however, fell from 49,000 in 2019 to 36,000 in 2020.

The decrease was attributed to Covid-19 measures, including the two-month circuit breaker period, said NEA.

"With more people working from home, there were also less enforcement actions for littering offences in traditionally high footfall locations, such as transport nodes and congregation areas outside of malls or open fields, but more enforcement actions taken against smoking at prohibited areas in HDB estates," said NEA.

It added that its enforcement officers encountered physical and verbal abuse in the course of their duties. In 2020, there were 90 such cases, 10 per cent more than in 2019. More than 70 of these occurred when officers were engaging with offenders who were either smoking or littering.

"NEA takes a serious view of those who verbally or physically abuse our officers and will not hesitate to take strong actions, which may result in criminal prosecution for possible offences," it added.

As part of NEA's move to adopt a holistic approach to enforcement, it trialled information stands which display the number of littering incidents in the area and the enforcement actions carried out to deter further offences. The three-month trial started in October 2020, and NEA plans to roll this out islandwide in 2021.

The agency also said that while technology has helped augment enforcement operations, it is not feasible to deploy officers everywhere at all times, and that the public should do its part to keep Singapore clean.

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