Country Listing

Singapore Table of Contents


Trends in Criminal Activities

Singapore's criminal code included seven classes of offenses. Class one covered serious crimes against persons, including murder, rape, and assault with a deadly weapon. Classes two through four were concerned with arson, robbery, theft, and abuse of another's property. Class five crimes included forgery, counterfeiting, and fraud. Classes six and seven covered violations of the penal code in matters of public safety and violations of special criminal ordinances, particularly those related to drugs, firearms, gambling, vagrancy, vandalism, and petty crime.

A high percentage of murder cases were solved each year by police. In 1988 only ten of fifty-four murders had not been solved by police at the end of the year. The percentage of murder cases solved had steadily increased since the 1960s. In 1969 police solved 44 percent of seventy-eight murders. This number improved to 68 percent of fifty-seven murders in 1983, and in 1988 to 81 percent of the total.

Police were less successful in solving other types of crimes. In 1984, there were 677 incidents reported to police that included sexual and other types of assaults on persons, including robberies and beatings. Police solved approximately 50 percent of these crimes. In 1984 only 20 percent of the reported 1,620 armed robbery cases had been solved at the time statistics for that year were reported to the ICPO. Persons under the age of sixteen were classified as juveniles and given special treatment under the law. In 1984, few juveniles were charged with committing serious crimes. Juveniles were involved in no murders, 8 percent of the sexual assaults, and 10 percent of the armed robberies.

Most of the crimes for which statistics were available in 1984 involved various types of theft. Sixty percent of the crimes reported that year were classified as thefts that did not involve a dangerous weapon. Police solved 18 percent of the almost 23,000 reported cases of theft, and juveniles were believed to be responsible for 12 percent of these crimes. Between 1971 and 1983, police were successful in substantially reducing the number of car thefts. In 1971 almost 9,000 vehicles were stolen, compared with only 470 in 1984. In 1983, juveniles were responsible for 77 percent of all car thefts.

In the early 1970s, the government determined that the misuse of illegal drugs, particularly heroin, cannabis, and such psychotropic tablets as methaqualone, was a major problem. In 1973 Parliament passed the Misuse of Drugs Act, which mandated imprisonment for drug dealers and instituted new programs to rehabilitate users. The act also enabled the government to monitor the problem more accurately because most of the persons arrested each year on drug charges already had a criminal record. In the 1980s, more than 5,000 persons were arrested annually on drug charges. Only 10 percent of those arrested were newly identified users, however, and another 10 percent were found to be involved in selling illegal drugs.

Data as of December 1989