Parliament: Rise in incidences involving confrontational behaviour towards public service staff

Parliament: Rise in incidences involving confrontational behaviour towards public service staff

SINGAPORE: Cases of harassment or abuse among frontline government agencies have risen by half, according to figures revealed by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Tuesday.

A total of 45 cases were reported to the police last year, an increase from the 25 cases reported in 2013.

These cases occurred at seven frontline agencies that have significant public interactions: Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB), Housing and Development Board (HDB), Inland Revenue Authority (IRAS), Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and National Environment Agency (NEA).

Mr Teo was answering MP Seah Kian Peng's Parliamentary question on whether there is a rise in occurences of rude and confrontational behaviour towards public servants, particularly front line staff and nurses.

Among restructured hospitals, Mr Teo said there were 31 reported cases in 2013 and 34 cases in 2014.

However, these cases are among five million service requests received through physical channels each year and the incidence of abuse should thus be seen in this overall context, noted Mr Teo.

He stated that majority of these cases are incidents of verbal or physical abuse, which amounted to intimidation and obstruction of public officers in performing their duties.

In some instances, members of the public turned abusive when their requests or appeals were turned down.

Mr Teo said that the government takes a serious view of abuse of public officers and more severe cases of abuse will face criminal prosecution under the Protection from Harassment Act, which was enacted in March last year.

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