Published: 04 April 2022
Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs in light of the recent sword and knife-related crimes (a) what are the steps and measures taken to protect the public in terms of awareness and emergency preparedness; and (b) whether there can be a blanket ban for the possession of a knife, razor or other sharp objects in any schools, public or commercial premises.
Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether there are legislative measures to help the police target and guide individuals, who are at risk of being drawn into knife-related crimes due to certain mental or other conditions, to set them on a positive path similar to the recent Knife Crime Prevention Orders piloted in the UK.
Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment:
1. Mr Speaker, I will address Oral Questions Numbers 28 and 29, Written Question Number 11, as well as questions filed by Ms Ng Ling Ling and Dr Wan Rizal for future sitting, please.
2. In the past five years, the number of knife-related crimes involving murder, robbery, rioting and serious hurt has remained relatively constant, averaging about 150 cases annually. About 36% of these crimes occurred in residential areas and 3% happened in educational institutions, premises. The remaining cases occurred in other public and commercial premises.
3. For urgent incidents, including those involving dangerous weapons, Police are generally able to respond within 15 minutes of the call. The officers will use force, wherever necessary and this includes situations which require them to protect and to save lives, including their own lives, and prevent the commission of an offence, and arrest subjects.
4. Where a person refuses to comply with Police’s instructions and poses a threat to the lives of those around him, including the Police officers, the officers may use lethal force to neutralise the threat.
5. In incidents where firearms have been used, the Police Psychological Services Department works with the Police unit’s leadership and para-counsellors to provide stress management interventions to support the officers involved.
6. MHA currently regulates six items under the Arms and Explosives Act, or AEA in short – sword, spear, spearhead, dagger, bayonet and dangerous bows and arrows. This list of regulated weapons will be expanded to include items such as knuckledusters and flick knives when the Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Act replaces the AEA later this year. Regulated items will be subjected to greater control, including the regulation of sales on e-commerce platforms.
7. We need to be calibrated on the regulatory measures to be imposed. Many items with common daily usage, like knives, can also be used as offensive weapons. We need to be practical and not over-regulate such items.
8. There are legislative measures to deal with persons with a higher propensity of committing crimes, including knife-related crimes, due to certain psychiatric conditions. For instance, a person who suffers from a mental disorder can be detained under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act.
9. Where a person has already been convicted of an offence, the Court may impose a Mandatory Treatment Order, or MTO, if his or her condition contributed to the offence. The MTO would compel the person to undergo psychiatric treatment for up to 36 months in lieu of imprisonment, which would facilitate the rehabilitation and treatment of the individual involved.
10. For those who are incarcerated, the Singapore Prison Service provides intervention for inmates who are at risk of violent re-offending. For example, they are taught how to regulate their emotions and acquire skills to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence.
11. MHA, together with our partner agencies, has also been engaging the public through the SGSecure movement, to build vigilance and preparedness against terrorism. Outreach efforts include sharing advisories such as “Run-Hide-Tell” and “Press-Tie-Tell”, as well as other emergency preparedness programmes such as the first aid programme and the use of CPR-AED. These skills are also applicable in non-terrorism related emergencies, such as the recent knife incidents, and will help members of the public avoid or reduce harm to oneself or to others. Thank you.