Published: 15 August 2016
Mr. Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what steps are being taken by the police to deal with makeshift brothels being set up in secluded areas within heartland areas like Punggol and Woodlands; and (b) whether investigations have been undertaken to determine whether there have been any women or girls who are victims of human trafficking at such locations.
1. Mdm Speaker, the Police conduct enforcement operations regularly to deter and detect such activities.
2. Over the past year, the Police have conducted anti-vice operations, in several places, including around heartland parks in Woodlands and Punggol. 2 sex workers were arrested at Woodlands Town Garden in October 2015 and 21 persons, comprising 13 men and 8 sex workers, were arrested at Punggol Waterway Park in November 2015.
3. Besides enforcement, the Police also work with grassroots leaders and other Government agencies such as the Singapore Land Authority to deter persons from entering forested areas to conduct such activities. These measures include improving lighting conditions, installing closed-circuit television cameras and enhancing patrols and enforcement checks in the area.
4. Mdm Speaker, for the two-year period from January 2014 to December 2015, Police's investigations involving the sex workers arrested at makeshift brothels did not reveal any evidence of TIP offences. These foreign sex workers are recruited by operators in their home countries and come to Singapore to engage in this work voluntarily.
5. The Police have set up a dedicated team of specialist officers to investigate sex trafficking cases.
6. Besides the Police, frontline officers and support staff from other relevant government agencies have been trained on the procedures and case management approach for TIP cases. Suspected TIP victims will be referred to shelters and given appropriate assistance.