SINGAPORE - Significant resources were dedicated to investigating former Workers' Party MP Raeesah Khan's allegation in Parliament about a sexual assault case, the police said on Monday (Dec 13).
After she made the claim, police officers went through two rounds of checking their records, including all records of visitors to all police stations in the country since Jan 1, 2017.
The aim was to identify the alleged visit, said the police in a statement on Monday evening (Dec 13).
Ms Khan in a speech on Aug 3 said she had accompanied a sexual assault victim to a police station, but the victim later came out crying after being asked by the police about her dressing and whether she had been drinking.
She has since confessed to lying about the case and admitted that she had not accompanied the victim to the police station.
On Friday, Workers' Party chief and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh, appearing before the Committee of Privileges, said he felt the lie told by Ms Khan did not cause the police much harm.
He also questioned the amount of work put in by the police to investigate her allegations.
On Monday, the police said: "A substantial amount of resources was dedicated to this, because it was a statement made by an MP in Parliament, and was taken seriously and at face value."
They added that their officers also considered the possibility that Ms Khan had accompanied a victim, without entering a police station.
As such, they also combed through more than 1,400 sexual assault and related cases from 2018 to 2021, and narrowed this list down to cases which appeared to somewhat match Ms Khan's description in Parliament.
The police said: "The investigation officers in charge of these cases were all asked to check through their investigation records in detail. Other details were also checked with the officers.
"Police officers also checked through all the feedback received from members of the public in 2018, relating to sexual assault, but could not link any feedback to the case mentioned by Ms Khan."
The police said they had dedicated significant resources to investigate into Ms Khan's claims and many police officers had been involved in the investigations into the false claims.
They added that the quantitative impact of such falsehoods is not just in terms of the man-hours lost.
"There were also delays in handling other matters and cases, with impact on members of the public - whose cases could have been handled faster had the time and resources not been wasted trying to investigate an incident which never happened."
According to a special report released on Sunday, Mr Singh, in testimony to the Committee of Privileges, said Ms Khan had not been able to substantiate the allegation. He also disagreed that the false anecdote would have had an adverse impact on the work of the police.
He said: "The police is not some broken-back organisation... I solemnly and sincerely believe if you speak to any senior police officer worth his salt, he or she will tell you that in the course of investigations there can be a number of situations where certain questions are put to a witness which are uncomfortable for that person."
Culture, Community and Youth Minister Edwin Tong replied that a wrong was done to the police as time had been wasted by the police "chasing their tails for three months" in order to find the case Ms Khan was talking about.
Mr Singh disagreed.
He pointed out that Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan said at the same session of Parliament that the police could not find any case resembling what Ms Khan had described.
"So what work was actually done? I am not aware. I am not saying no work was done, obviously work must have been done, done to check," said Mr Singh.
When Mr Tong suggested that the police would have had to go through all its cases to check, since the allegation made in Parliament was serious and had to be addressed, Mr Singh replied: "I do not believe I heard that from the police. I did not hear anywhere that they've gone through all the cases."
In the statement on Monday, the police said public trust in the police force is integral to the officers' ability to carry out their mission effectively, to ensure the safety and security of the people.
The statement said: "If the public whom we serve do not trust us, it would be difficult to secure their cooperation, which is often critical to prevent, deter and detect crime and security incidents."
False accusations against the police also have an impact on victims' trust and confidence in the police, and may deter victims from coming forward to seek help.
"The police therefore take all allegations against our professionalism seriously. When allegations are made, we investigate carefully, and if they are true, we take steps to rectify the mistakes, and minimise the possibility of them recurring."
It added that false anecdotes such as the one told by Ms Khan, will cast doubt on, and over time, erode public trust in the police.
"Comments that downplay or dismiss the impact of false allegations against the police, are discouraging. They can also affect the morale of our officers, who work hard every day to keep Singaporeans safe and secure."