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Recent spate of armed assaults due to variety of factors but cases still rare: Criminologists, security experts

Recent spate of armed assaults due to variety of factors but cases still rare: Criminologists, security experts

SINGAPORE — In response to queries on a recent spate of public violence involving armed offenders, the police said that they "will not tolerate heinous and violent crimes that threaten public safety" and will spare no effort bringing offenders to justice swiftly. Other initiatives, including new frontline capabilities such as the Emergency Response Team and In-Situ Reaction Team, serve to enhance patrols on the ground and response to violent crimes and terrorism, police said.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam noted that four violent incidents in March "involved attackers suspected to be under the influence of drugs, or with a history of substance abuse". The four incidents involving dangerous weapons were: A sword-wielding man in Buangkok Crescent, a man in Strathmore Avenue who allegedly injured two passers-by with a razor blade, an attacker in Bukit Batok who allegedly threw a knife at a police officer, and a known drug offender who threatened police with a knife in Bendemeer Road, Mr Shanmugam wrote. The man was shot dead by police.

In addition to the four incidents cited by Mr Shanmugam, videos of another incident involving an attacker wielding a chopper went viral on social media recently of a man attacking his wife with a chopper at Beach Road

All three academics who spoke to TODAY said that the level of police presence on streets was not a factor. Dr Leon Moosavi, senior lecturer in criminology and security at the University of Liverpool in Singapore, said: "Regrettably, violence has always been present in human societies and it doesn't look like it will ever be eradicated any time soon. The best we can hope for is to reduce violent crime but we have to be realistic that no society can ever be totally free from criminality, including violent conduct." 

Associate Professor Razwana Begum, head, public safety and security programme, School of Humanities and Behavioural Sciences, Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), said: "One of the main issues — poor conflict resolution skills, to communicate and express hurt, pain, anger. The miscommunication can lead to pent up anger, coupled with stress and anxiety with the emotional issues related to the pandemic resulting in an individual unable to stop, reflect and think." 

Criminologist Olivia Choy, an Assistant Professor at the Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) School of Social Science, said: "Research has shown that the perception of there being more crime can undermine confidence in public security, but confidence in police is also shaped by other factors such as an individual’s exposure to crime and what they see police do within their local area."

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