Study on drug crime did not include ‘intangible costs’, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Study on drug crime did not include ‘intangible costs’

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A newly-released study that puts the total cost of drug crime in Singapore in 2015 at $1.23 billion did not take into account some of the intangible costs to society, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Sun Xueling yesterday.

"Lost lives, pain and suffering and untold misery to families" are significant intangible costs of drug abuse, she added, in her reply to Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) in Parliament.

The figure in the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) study, which was commissioned by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) in 2016, is "almost certainly an underestimation", she said.

One reason is that it does not include costs like the number of work days lost for victims of drug crime because "it has not been quantified", she added.

The NTU study took into account the amount spent by different agencies in combating and preventing drug crime and the losses incurred by the drug abuser in consuming drugs, among other factors.

"So we have now undertaken this study, we hope to add to the literature, so that more are aware about what are the drug involved crimes, as well as drug attributable crimes and what the costs to society are," said Ms Sun, who is also Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development.

She said the CNB has yet to detect any trend of drug syndicates deliberately targeting young people in Singapore, like selling them drugs or recruiting them into the trade.

"Nevertheless, we take this risk very seriously. We have strengthened our legislative framework and enhanced our enforcement powers to better protect young persons from being exploited and becoming victims of drugs," she said.


Mr de Souza asked what is being done as statistics show the highest number of new drug abusers are below age 35, "and in light of the growing calls around the world to legalise recreational drug use".

Acknowledging the global call for drug legalisation is a cause for concern, Ms Sun said preventive drug education is the first line of defence in drug control.

Social media is a key platform in youth outreach, and "CNB has been developing content messages of strong deterrence, as well as evidence-based narratives on Singapore's drug policies, through social media accounts", she said.