MHA: Low crime rate here but look out for terrorism

MHA: Low crime rate here but look out for terrorism
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Terrorism is the "most significant" security threat facing the Republic today, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said yesterday, even as it reassured Singaporeans that the overall crime rate here remains low.

It issued the warning after a string of global terror attacks, including those in Paris and Jakarta.

The ministry called on the public to remain alert to warning signs, such as self-radicalised individuals.

It added: "The Home Team will do its utmost to protect Singapore against terrorism and be ready to respond decisively should there be a terrorist attack."

The Ministry also highlighted trends of crime statistics which are set to be released by law enforcement agencies over the next few days.

The overall crime rate remains low although there was a slight increase from 2014, fuelled by a sharp increase in online crime - such as scams - which has persisted since 2013.

Almost all other types of crime have fallen.

Violent property offences and housebreaking are at their lowest levels in 20 years while unlicensed moneylending harassment hit a 10-year low.

But MHA also highlighted some areas of concern - such as the rising number of new drug abusers under 30 years old and an increased number of arrests made for those who employ and harbour immigration offenders.

It also pointed out that the Home Team is facing increasing demands.

For instance, the number of emergency ambulance calls has been increasing at a rate of 5 per cent a year in the last five years - a trend set to worsen as the elderly population grows.

But an expanded network of community volunteers will boost the Singapore Civil Defence Force's limited resources.

These volunteers, under initiatives such as the Neighbourhood Active Responder Programme, can respond to fires and other life-saving emergencies before officers arrive.

MHA added that the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, a crucial part of Singapore's bulwark against terrorism, is facing increasing traveller volumes at checkpoints.

During a visit to Changi Airport's immigration checkpoints on Saturday, Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin said border security is Singapore's "first line of defence".

"It's very important for us to make sure we do not let our guard down," said Mr Amrin, who added that the public can help by reporting suspicious characters or unattended baggage.

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