Singapore’s crime rate is so low that many shops don’t even lock up


Singapore was recently ranked second on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index for 2017, coming in just behind Tokyo.

In 2016, the island nation’s police reported 135 total days without any crimes including snatch-theft, house break-ins and robbery. That low crime rate means many small businesses enjoy little concern about shoplifting.

In fact, as  recently observed, many local businesses take few precautions when closing shop at night.

For instance, in the ground floor lobby of a mixed-use building in the downtown business district, many shops don’t have windows, locks — or even doors.

A Starbucks located in Raffles Place, one of Singapore’s busiest underground train stations has no formal doors. Rather, a small rope indicates when the store is closed, and merchandise is all still displayed and within an arm’s length of commuters.

But of course, surveillance is highly prevalent in the city-state, which boasts about 5.5 million people.

Last year, Singapore’s police force announced an initiative, PolCam 2.0, in which it will roll out tens of thousands of additional surveillance cameras. In it’s first initiative in 2012, the Police installed more than 62,000 cameras.

In contrast to South Africa’s crime levels:

The South African Police Service, with Stats SA,  published the country’s crime statistics for 2018/19, showing which types of criminal activity have increased – and decreased – in the past year.

The stats cover 21 crime categories – 17 of which are reported by the public, and four of which are as a result of police activity.

Understanding the changes, the 17 reported crimes should show a decrease to indicate improvement in that category, while the four police-reported crimes should increase, to show more effective policing.

Changes to crime stats in those latter four categories do not necessarily indicate an increase in those types of crimes, but could be attributed to more intensive police activity.

The statistics cover all reported crimes between 1 April 2018 and March 2019.

A total of 2.01 million crimes were recorded in 2019 – down from the 2.09 million recorded in 2018. This represents a 1% increase in the number of reported crimes in the 17 public categories, along with a massive 22% decline in the number of crimes as a result of police action.

Crimes detected as a result of police action cover crimes discovered by active policing, namely road-blocks and raids. Categories covered by this are the illegal possession of firearms, DUI or driving under the influence (of drugs or alcohol); and the use, possession or trade of illegal drugs.

The reason highlighted for the major drop in the number of crimes detected through police action was due to the country’s new position on the private use of cannabis, which resulted in far fewer arrests in this category, the SAPS said.

However, there was also a worrying drop in the number of arrests made relating to illegal firearms in this category.


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