First 'police concept train' launched following rise in molestation cases on public transport, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

First 'police concept train' launched following rise in molestation cases on public transport

She was on her way home with her fiance, when they saw a man holding his smartphone under the skirt of a girl.

The couple and the man were riding an escalator up to the platform of Yishun MRT station when the pair saw what he was doing.

Even though the suspected voyeur was about 1.8m tall, and Ms Karine Lee, 31, a real estate agent, was only 1.62m tall, she confronted him and called the police when they got off the escalator.

With more molestation cases on the public transport system, and acts of voyeurism still occurring, the police are looking to raise public awareness of such crimes.

In the first six months of 2023, there were 97 molestation cases on public transport, compared to 84 during the same period in 2022. Meanwhile, there were 23 voyeurism cases on public transport in the first half of 2023, down from 35 in the same period last year.

On Thursday, the Singapore Police Force’s Public Transport Security Command (TransCom) launched its first “police concept train” on the North East Line at Harbourfront MRT station. The train’s six carriages feature cautionary messages on the sides and some floors of their interiors, warning would-be perpetrators against committing such crimes.

“Molestation is a crime” is emblazoned in bright red letters on the floors of the standing-only train cabins.

“The penalty for molestation is a jail term of up to 3 years, a fine and/or caning,” says a panel that is on the window in every carriage. “You are being watched,” reads artwork on some of the cabin walls.

There is also advice for potential victims: to take note of the culprit’s appearance and attire, shout for help or call 999, and alert station staff immediately.

This is the first of five concept trains to be rolled out by February 2024, in partnership with the Land Transport Authority (LTA), National Crime Prevention Council, SBS Transit and SMRT Corporation. It began operations on Thursday, and will run for four weeks.

The other four trains will run on the East-West Line, North-South Line, Circle Line and Downtown Line, for four to six weeks each.

The police will also display messages warning against taking upskirt photos or videos on the platform screen doors and escalators of selected MRT stations, and at some bus interchanges.

Assistant Commissioner of Police and TransCom Commander Masagoes Idris Hussain said at an event launching the train on Thursday: “I would like to stress that the police have zero tolerance toward sexual offenders who threaten the personal safety of the community. I also urge members of the public to remain vigilant and report to the police immediately if they witness a crime.”

At Thursday’s launch, a Public Spiritedness Award was given to Ms Lee.

She recalled asking the suspected voyeur what he was doing, and told him: “You don’t have to run. There are many CCTVs here.”

She then called the police, and with her fiance escorted the man to an open area outside the station to wait for the police. The man was later arrested.

She told The Straits Times: “I don’t know why I approached him, I just went ahead and stopped him.

“My friends later told me that they had been victims of molestation on public transport, but were too scared to confront the culprits and quickly got off at the next stop.”

Also honoured were the LTA, SBS Transit, SMRT Corporation, and eight employees from Certis Cisco, SMRT and SBS. They were given Community Partnership Awards for working with the police to combat crime on public transport network.

Ms Mariammal Poniogody (left) and Ms Karine Lee received awards from SPF’s Public Transport Security Command (TransCom) for helping to apprehend suspected voyeurs. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

One of the awardees was Certis Cisco transit security officer Mariammal Poniogody, who helped to apprehend a suspected voyeur at Orchard Boulevard MRT station.

Ms Poniogody, 56, a mother of three, was manning her post at the station when she saw a man squat behind a woman on an escalator, and put a phone near her skirt.

Ms Poniogody shouted to alert the victim, then informed her station manager, before rushing to help detain the man. He was arrested.

Ms Poniogody, who has been at her current job for two years, said that this was the first time she had encountered such a case. She was not scared at that moment. I scolded him, she added.