News Singapore 

‘Zero tolerance’ for abuse against officers, amid rise in attacks: Shanmugam

File photo of policemen in Singapore. (Photo: AFP / ROSLAN RAHMAN)

SINGAPORE: There is “zero tolerance” for abuse against Home Team officers, Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam said on Wednesday (Sep 27), highlighting an increase in such cases.

Speaking at an awards ceremony at the Home Team Academy, Mr Shanmugam – who is also the Minister for Law – said that the problem had got worse in recent years, with a 65 per cent increase in physical and verbal attacks against officers from 2014 to 2016.

Last year there were 484 such cases – more than one per day, he added.

“From our perspective, there is zero tolerance for this,” he said.

It is “not easy” for officers to deal with people who are violent, Mr Shanmugam said, adding that officers try to use reasonable force when arresting and restraining people.

“We do not want to cause unnecessary or excessive hurt,” he said. “We also do not want any kind of image, caught on video, that can do harm to our own force, and morale as well.”

The Ministry for Home Affairs has been working with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to press for harsher sentences against those who prevent officers from carrying out their duties, Mr Shanmugam added.

As an example, he pointed to a recent case where HR executive Jeffrey Yeo Ek Boon slapped a policeman who had tried to help him up from the ground.

“The original sentence was one week, which was, to say the least, very odd,” said Mr Shanmugam. “On appeal, it was increased to ten weeks.”

He also gave the example of Australian Jason Peter Darragh, who had his sentence for abusing police officers at Changi Airportextended from six-and-a-half months to eight-and-a-half months after prosecutors appealed.

It took several police officers and members of the public to eventually subdue Darragh after he started drunkenly hitting and taunting two police officers at the airport.

“MHA will work, and has been working with AGC, to press for deterrent, harsher sentences for anyone who obstructs our officers from carrying out their duties, particularly if they are violent,” said Mr Shanmugam.

He added that if that approach did not work, then the ministry would look again at the legal framework.

Source: CNA/nc

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