‘Smart clubbing’ campaign returns as molestation cases and fights in nightspots rise
The “smart clubbing” campaign is being revived amid concerns over an increase in molestation cases and fights in and around nightlife spots in 2022.
The year-long campaign, organised by the Singapore Police Force (SPF), aims to reduce such crimes by encouraging nightlife outlets and patrons to adopt safe clubbing practices.
This includes developing proper procedures to deal with intoxicated patrons and improving surveillance in clubs.
The police said on Thursday that 77 molestation cases were reported at nightspots between January and September 2022.
This is up from 17 cases for the same period in 2021, when nightlife activities were muted due to Covid-19 restrictions. Before the pandemic, there were 104 molestation cases in 2019 and 143 cases in 2018.
A total of 36 cases of rioting, affray, disorderly behaviour and serious hurt were reported in the first nine months of 2022, up from 10 cases in the same period in 2021.
Speaking at the campaign’s launch at Marquee nightclub at Marina Bay Sands on Thursday, Minister of State for Home Affairs Sun Xueling said there is a need to remain vigilant as the nightlife industry emerges from the pandemic and restores its vibrancy.
Said Ms Sun: “Intoxicated patrons may sometimes put themselves and others in dangerous situations, especially when they find themselves involved in fights, assaults or cases of outrage of modesty.”
Bars, pubs and clubs were allowed to resume nightlife operations in April 2022.
Marquee, one of the glitziest and most popular nightclubs in Singapore, had at least three alleged cases of outrage of modesty between September and December 2022.
The men, aged between 21 and 45, were said to have inappropriately touched the female victims, aged between 22 and 27, at the nightclub. All three men were charged in court on Thursday.
In her speech, Ms Sun highlighted a case in Colorado in the United States, where a 22-year-old gunman fired at patrons in a nightclub in November 2022, killing five and injuring 25 others.
“While Singapore might be safe from gun violence, a patron armed with other offensive weapons can inflict a lot of harm.” she said.
“We have seen incidents of suspects with knives or swords in the heartlands. Can you imagine if they were to bring such items into a crowded public entertainment outlet?”
This is the third edition of the campaign, after the first two in 2018 and 2019.
Similar to its earlier editions, this year’s “smart clubbing” campaign urges clubs and patrons to implement good practices to raise the safety of clubbing spaces.
It includes checking patrons to ensure they are at least 18 years old and blocking the entry of contraband items or weapons.
Nightlife outlets are also encouraged to enhance the training of staff so they are familiar in dealing with drunk or uncooperative patrons who may harm or take advantage of others.
Ms Sun said outlets should develop procedures to manage such patrons, such as refusing to serve them more drinks or ensuring their friends look after them.
“Some clubs even provide a care room or corner for patrons to sober up, so they will not become victims or perpetrators of crime,” she added.
The police have engaged 100 nightlife outlets in the central region of Singapore in the lead-up to this year’s campaign and aim to bring on board other nightlife spots islandwide.
They commended Marquee for using the downtime during the pandemic to enhance security measures, including piloting a walk-through detection system.
“Guests need not remove items like car keys or mobile phones for security screening and they can walk through the system with their bags,” said the police.
The system will trigger an alarm when it detects items shaped like weapons.
The police said those who commit outrage of modesty or are involved in fights will be dealt with sternly.
“To enhance police presence at public entertainment-related hotspots, the police will be deploying more surveillance cameras, including the SPF Enhanced Mobicam,” they added.
These cameras come with visual and audio broadcasting capabilities to remind patrons to abide by the law.
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