Over 400 cases of police officers facing verbal, physical abuse in two years

Mr Desmond Tan said the ministry does not track the number of cases where back-up officers were deployed. PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

SINGAPORE - More than 400 cases of police officers facing verbal and physical abuse were reported over 2019 and last year.

These include incidents of officers being challenged by "disorderly members of the public", Minister of State for Home Affairs and Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan told Parliament on Tuesday (Aug 3).

Mr Tan was responding to Miss Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) who asked how many such incidents had occurred in the past two years.

She also asked how many of these cases required back up to be deployed, as well as how the Ministry of Home Affairs ensures that police personnel are physically and mentally prepared to handle face-to-face conflicts.

Mr Tan said the ministry does not track the number of cases where back-up officers were deployed.

"Depending on the situation, additional resources may be dispatched to reinforce the on-scene officers, to arrest the criminals, maintain peace and protect lives," he said, adding that officers are trained in a range of techniques to handle the dynamic and unpredictable threats they may encounter, including face-to-face conflicts.

These techniques include using verbal commands, unarmed tactics, batons, tasers and firearms.

"The police officers will evaluate the threat posed and take an appropriate course of action against the aggressor, taking into account public safety and their own safety, and the aggressor's as well," said Mr Tan.

Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (Chua Chu Kang GRC) asked if officers who are hurt in the course of such conduct by a member of the public have any recourse or compensation.

Mr Tan replied that when officers are injured in the course of duty, "they will be taken care (of by) the police in terms of the medical, as well as personal recourse".

"More importantly, we will also continue to support them in their duties, which is what they sign up for. And they always put the safety of the public... first in the course of their duty," he added.

A man was sentenced to nine weeks' jail last month for verbally abusing police officers with vulgar language on two occasions. He also uttered an insult against Malays to a policewoman.

In May, the police said they were investigating a 50-year-old man for allegedly using abusive language towards officers. The man was advised to wear a mask, but he is said to have disregarded the police officers' advice. He continued to "behave rowdily and hurled vulgarities at the officers", the police had said then.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.