New saliva test kit for drugs being used at Singapore checkpoints
A new saliva test kit for drugs, that can produce results in about 10 minutes, has been deployed at checkpoints and will be used at roadblocks.
In the debate on the budget of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in Parliament on Monday, Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said the kits have been used at checkpoints since January to deter Singaporeans and Permanent Residents from abusing drugs overseas.
He added that drug use continues to rise globally, posing challenges to keeping Singapore drug-free.
He said: “These kits... are light and compact. They offer a more efficient way to detect drug abusers at the checkpoints.”
Prof Faishal also said the test kits will be used by police and Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers in joint roadblock operation trials in February.
MHA said the kit is an on-site preliminary screening tool that – with its short turnaround time – will aid officers in their assessment of potential drug abuse.
It added that those who test positive will be subjected to further investigations and that the additional testing method will complement and enhance CNB’s current drug detection capabilities.
On Monday, Prof Faishal said while the drug situation remains under control, MHA is concerned with drug abuse among youth.
In its annual statistics released in February, CNB said almost two in three of combined repeat and new users of drugs were below the age of 30.
Prof Faishal said most young people agree that drugs are harmful, and support a tough stance against drugs but that some younger Singaporeans take a more permissive attitude, especially towards cannabis.
He added there will be more support for inmates and former offenders, and their families to reduce long-term recidivism.
Earlier in February, the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) had revealed the country’s five-year recidivism rate for the first time.
It showed about four in 10 former convicts released from prison in 2017 ended up reoffending and were detained, sentenced to jail, or given a day reporting order within five years of their release.
Prof Faishal said Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG) will be launching a new initiative for releasing inmates to develop new career options in emerging sectors that could include digital, built environment and agri-tech fields.
Through the YR Sandbox initiative, he said YRSG will work with industry partners to hire such inmates and provide on-the-job training or work-study programmes.
Prof Faishal added that the SPS has piloted a new scheme for volunteers to assist in the case management of selected supervisees in community-based programmes. Volunteer case officers will guide the supervisees during and after the programmes.
He said the SPS was also working with community partners to launch the new Desistor Network in April. Desistors are ex-offenders who have stayed clear of crime and drugs and will serve as mentors to recently released ex-offenders.
Said Prof Faishal: “This will also strengthen the desistors’ sense of self as contributing members of the community.”