Cases of abuse against Home Team officers down 40%
Police statistics show number of cases down from 462 in 2017 to 284 last year
On Aug 21, a man was jailed for 20 weeks after he challenged an officer to a fight in a Yishun police station, insulted another, and threw a shoe at a third.
Two days before, an American professor was jailed for three months for hurling racist vulgarities, spitting at and kicking police officers while drunk.
But even though such cases continue to hit the news, the number of Home Team officers who were physically or verbally abused actually fell by almost 40 per cent last year.
According to police statistics given to The New Paper, there were 284 physical assault and verbal abuse cases against Home Team officers last year.
This is down from the 462 cases in 2017, 484 in 2016, and 344 in 2015.
Home Team agencies include the police, the Singapore Civil Defence Force, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and the Singapore Prison Service.
In 2017, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said his ministry was working with the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) to protect police officers and press for deterrent, harsher sentences.
Lawyers told TNP that last year's drop is a sign of this deterrent effect.
Hilborne Law managing director Rajan Supramaniam said the harsh sentences have been effective and he sees fewer of these cases in court.
Ms Gloria James-Civetta, who runs her own law firm, said she has seen a drop in the number of locals being charged and encounters more cases involving foreigners and tourists.
And while the latest numbers came as a surprise to Invictus Law Corporation's Josephus Tan, who said he has taken on more of such cases, he agreed it is good news.
Mr Tan said jail time is the norm for offences under Section 353 of the Penal Code, which covers the use of criminal force to deter a public servant from his duty, and Section 332, which covers voluntarily causing hurt to a public servant.
"Most of the time, you will see the AGC, which is the prosecution, pushing for custodial sentences unless there are exceptional circumstances, more so when injuries are caused."
Verbal abuse against public servants falls under Section 6 of the Protection from Harassment Act and typically results in a fine, said Mr Supramaniam, unless there are aggravating factors like a threat to life.
The lawyers also attributed the dip in cases to the introduction of body cameras for police officers in 2015 and increased media coverage.
Mr Tan said: "People read about how serious it can be, because even though you might be in an intoxicated state, being voluntarily intoxicated is no defence."