Written Replies to Parliamentary Questions

Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Groups Most Vulnerable to Online Drug Peddling and Recidivism Rate of Drug Abuses Aged 20 to 29 by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 28 February 2017



Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) which are the groups most vulnerable to online peddling of drugs; (b) what is the rate of recidivism for drug abusers between the ages of 20 to 29 over the last three years; and (c) how is the Ministry working to reduce drug abuse in the age group of 20 to 29.




1. Law enforcement agencies worldwide face the emerging challenge of tackling online drugs sale. Traffickers and drug abusers can trade drugs anonymously on online black market websites. This makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to detect and apprehend the offenders.


2. We also face this challenge in Singapore. CNB works closely with partners such as the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and courier companies to detect and take action against online drug trade. In 2016, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) arrested around 200 persons for buying drugs and drug-related paraphernalia online. The majority of these persons were between the ages of 20 to 39 years old. These individuals are vulnerable to the online sale of drugs as they are tech-savvy and are familiar with online transactions.


3. While the total number of drug abusers arrested fell in 2016, there was an increase in the number of new drug abusers arrested. Close to two-thirds of all new abusers arrested were under the age of 30. This is an area of concern. The two-year recidivism rate for drug abusers between the ages of 20 to 29 has been around 34-36% in the last three years:


2012 Release Cohort 2013 Release Cohort 2014 Release Cohort
34% 34% 36%


4. Preventive drug education (PDE) is our first line of defence in the fight against drug abuse. This is especially true for younger persons, including those between 20 to 29 years old. CNB reaches out to them through multiple channels.


5. CNB partners key influencers in the community to spread the anti-drug message. For example, National Service (NS) Commanders have regular interaction with their NSmen and are well placed to detect signs of drug-related problems. CNB launched the NS Commander Toolkit in June 2016 to equip them with information on drug abuse as well as how to identify and steer potential abusers away from drugs. 


6. CNB is also building a community of advocates who will spread the anti-drug message among their peers. Some of our initiatives to advance advocacy for a drug-free Singapore include the forming of the United Against Drugs Coalition and the Anti-Drug Abuse Advocacy (A3) Network. Through these programmes, we aim to mobilise the community to support our zero tolerance approach to drugs.


7. CNB is also enhancing its online presence. CNB uses social media to reach out to this group of abusers to share information about the dangers of drugs, including how drug abuse can harm the abuser's family and loved ones.  


8. In addition to CNB's engagement and PDE efforts, we need rigorous enforcement to keep drugs away from our young. CNB maintains a tough stance against drugs and will not let up on its efforts to arrest drug traffickers who sell to our young.


9. CNB will continue to address the trends of youth drug abuse and online drug peddling through a comprehensive approach of enforcement, education and engagement.


Law and order