With a population just shy of six million, Singapore is known to be one of the countries with the lowest crime rates in the world. As a country governed by strict laws that does not tolerate any form of crime, you can be sure that living in Singapore will be safe for you and your family.
How safe is Singapore?
Singapore is the third safest country in the world, according to the Safe Cities Index report by The Economist in 2021. The Global Peace index also ranks Singapore at number 11 out of 163 nations. Crime rates are generally low in Singapore, with the number of crimes committed per 100,000 individuals standing at 658 in 2020 according to Statistica.
Singapore also has a reputation for its strict governing laws against crimes – particularly, its zero-tolerant policy for murder, drug-related crimes and the illegal possession of firearms. These can result in capital punishment.
Gun and weaponry laws in this nation are also very strict. Civilian firearm possession is prohibited to civilians regardless of any circumstance. While weapon possessions are heavily controlled and only permissible by law. Hence, gun-related crimes are rare and almost non-existent, while violent crimes do happen, albeit rare, too. However, there has been a slow increase in slashing cases over the years.
Theft crimes are also occasional. Many residents have noted that it is very safe to leave your possessions like laptops and phones on café tables if you need to leave for a short while. Pocket theft and petty crimes are also extremely rare, despite the dense population. It is also very safe to walk along the streets at night in Singapore.
Common crimes in Singapore
Scams and fraudulent crimes
Probably one of the most common types of crime taking place are commercial crimes – particularly, scams. Whether it takes place online, via email or phone call, many can fall victim to scams, resulting in fraudulent transactions. Just in 2020 alone, Channel News Asia reported that there has been a particularly significant increase in e-commerce scams during the “circuit breaker” period (the lockdown period equivalent). Similarly, social media impersonation, phishing scams and loan scams rose as well.
How to spot a phone scam: If you have a registered Singapore phone number, do not entertain phone calls with the prefix “+65”. While +65 is the local country code, registered Singapore numbers will not need to display the prefix if the call is being made locally. These are often scam phone calls. Additionally, unless you are expecting a call from abroad, be wary of foreign numbers with the prefix “+” and never provide any personal information when prompted. Instead, it is always good practice to ask for verification of the caller’s identity, whenever possible.
Sexual assault crimes
While still occurring very rarely compared to other nations, there has been an increase in sexual assault cases in Singapore since 2017. The Straits Times reported that there has been a 40-percent rise in sexual assault cases between 2017 and 2019 – all of which involved minors aged below 16.
According to the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), in a study conducted on 500 women from 92 companies, 54 percent noted that they have experienced some form of workplace sexual harassment. An increasing number of sexual indecencies has also occurred in various tertiary institutions and homes, as reported by Channel News Asia, calling a nationwide concern on the state of sexual safety in Singapore.
While also rare, illegal gambling does happen. Just in April 2021, The Straits Times reported that more than 1.2 million dollars have been found as a result of illegal horse-betting, leading to the arrest of 28 people in an “islandwide remote gambling bust.”
What the authorities are doing to deter crime?
Crime prevention public campaigns
To reduce the occurrence of scam crimes, the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) regularly holds online and physical campaigns – e.g., broadcast media, digital advertisements and physical posters plastered in public transportation and many public spaces – to educate the public on how to spot potential scams.
Similarly, the NCPC also regularly holds campaigns in various schools, workplaces and public spaces to educate and encourage individuals to report cases of any form of sexual harassment and assault.
ScamShield is a mobile app launched to deter scam messages and calls. This app was developed by the NCPC and Open Government Products. According to the NCPC, “ScamShield actively [operates] in the background to filter scam messages and calls from numbers used in illegal activities.” Scam messages that are identified as potentially fraudulent will be automatically sent to a phone’s junk folder. Identified scam numbers will be blocked.
Note: This app is currently only available to iOS users, click here to download.
While Singapore is a very safe city to live and work in, low crime does not equate the absence of it. The potential for threat of crime is always present regardless of where you may be. It is always prudent to exercise caution whenever needed and to always look out for the people you care about.
How to stay safe in Singapore
The national police hotline is 999. If you do find yourself in an emergency situation, do not hesitate to call this number to be directed to the nearest police officer.
Alternatively, you may call 995 for immediate medical intervention.
As mentioned above, do not give out personal details to any suspicious looking phone numbers or email addresses.
As of September 2019, organisations are not allowed to collect, use or disclose Singapore National Identification Card (IC) numbers. In most cases, only the last four digits of your identification number will be required. If you do encounter a situation where a full disclosure is required, it’s best to be wary and ask for verification.