Roadshows to spur public to help fight crime

Dogs from the police's K-9 unit and a breath evidential analyser van will make their way to the heartland over the next five weekends - not to fight crime, but to encourage the public to play its part in doing so.

These are among capabilities to be displayed at the police community roadshow, which starts on Saturday at the J Link mall in Jurong Gateway Road.

The show will continue every weekend until Dec 18 at Waterway Point, Toa Payoh HDB Hub, Tampines Community Plaza and Woodlands Civic Centre respectively. It comes as the number of public-assisted arrests in seven major offences fell from 531 in 2013 to 394 last year. From January to September this year, the number was 301. Such arrests include cases when people provide information to the police or make a citizen's arrest.

Major offences refer to murder, rape, outrage of modesty, robbery, housebreaking, motor vehicle theft and snatch theft. While the overall crime rate rose by 4 per cent from 2014 to last year, crimes against persons, housebreaking, theft and related crimes fell slightly in the same period.

"The roadshows aim to raise awareness on police work and how the community plays an important role," said Assistant Commissioner of Police Gerald Lim, head of the organising committee for the show. He hopes that the roadshow will help people understand policing better and deepen the trust between officers and members of the public.

Among the newer capabilities that residents will get to see are the police's emergency response teams and a mobile breath evidential analyser test centre, rolled out in April last year. The centre, for example, has shortened time needed to test suspected drink drivers who get stopped at roadblocks.

Instead of going to the Traffic Police headquarters for breath alcohol readings to be tested, the van allows this to be done on site, reducing the time needed from up to 90 minutes to about 20 minutes. This provides more accurate results as alcohol in the body decreases over time. About 10 per cent of the Traffic Police's patrolling teams have been trained in administering the test, which is recorded on camera.

Assistant Superintendent Iszeraj Ibrahim, officer-in-charge of Queenstown's community policing unit, said that residents have become friendlier and approach officers for non-criminal matters as well, such as financial assistance. "They see us as a regular feature (around the neighbourhood) and are more comfortable with approaching us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2016, with the headline 'Roadshows to spur public to help fight crime'. Subscribe