Number of knife-related crimes constant at about 150 cases a year: Desmond Tan, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Number of knife-related crimes constant at about 150 cases a year: Desmond Tan

The number of knife-related crimes involving murder, robbery, rioting and serious hurt has remained relatively constant, averaging about 150 annually in recent years.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan revealed this figure in Parliament on Monday (April 4), saying that this has been the annual average for the past five years.

He added that about 36 per cent of these crimes occurred in residential areas and 3 per cent happened in educational premises.

The remaining cases occurred in other public and commercial places.

"For urgent incidents, including those involving dangerous weapons, police are generally able to respond within 15 minutes of the call," he said.

Mr Tan was responding to questions from Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (Chua Chu Kang GRC).

Mr Zhulkarnain had asked what measures have been taken to protect the public in the light of the recent sword- and knife-related crimes, and whether there could be a blanket ban on carrying a knife, razor or other sharp objects in any schools, public or commercial premises.

A spate of such crimes had recently made headlines, with three violent incidents involving a bladed weapon reportedly happening on March 14.

The most widely reported incident that day involved a 37-year-old man who was caught on video swinging a sword near Buangkok Square mall and stopping oncoming traffic.

He was swinging his weapon at a pedestrian before other members of the public came forward and helped to restrain him until the police arrived and arrested him.

In an incident on March 23, a 64-year-old knife-wielding man was shot and killed by the police.

The man had been ordered by officers to drop his weapon, but had refused to do so.

ThreeTaser shots were fired at him, but hecontinued advancing towards the officers.

The police said then that as there was imminent threat to the safety of the officers, one of them fired his pistol at the man, hitting him in the chest.

The man was taken to hospital and later pronounced dead.

Mr Tan said that when a person refuses to comply with police's instructions and poses a threat to the lives of those around him, including the officers, they may use lethal force.

He said: "The officers will use force, wherever necessary and this includes situations which require them to protect and to save lives, including their own lives, and prevent the commission of an offence, and arrest subjects."

He said the Ministry of Home Affairs currently regulates six items under the Arms and Explosives Act.

These are sword, spear, spearhead, dagger, bayonet and dangerous bows and arrows.

He said that this list of regulated weapons will be expanded to include items such as knuckledusters and flick knives when the Guns, Explosives and Weapons Control Act replaces the Act later this year.

Regulated items will be subject to greater control, including the regulation of sales on e-commerce platforms.

Mr Tan explained that a practical approach to regulation needs to be taken.

"We need to be calibrated on the regulatory measures to be imposed," he said.

"Many items with common daily usage, likes knives, can also be used as offensive weapons. We need to be practical and not over-regulate such items."

Ms Ng Ling Ling (Ang Mo Kio GRC) said Buangkok residents have raised concerns about their safety, and asked Mr Tan about having greater police presence in the estate to assure them, including by having an accessible Neighbourhood police post in the estate.

Mr Tanreplied thata neighbourhood police post's locationdepends on residential, commercial and other premises in the area.

But he added that members of the public can easily contact the police in emergencies by dialling 999.

He also said that mobile self-help stations, where members of public can activate the police when needed, are being tested out in more secluded areas such as Punggol Park.

SINGAPORE PARLIAMENTcrimeMinistry of Home Affairs