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Mirrors in HDB lifts aim to deter crime

Police division pilots project in 450 blocks to let residents monitor people behind them.

SINGAPORE: For some months, residents in Jurong West have noticed the two panels of mirrors that had appeared on their lift doors, but few guessed their true purpose – some, like 37-year-old admin officer Michelle Chong, thought it was to allow those in the lift to check their appearance.

The mirrors, in fact, serve a rather more serious purpose – deterring crime in lifts. Since March, 450 Housing and Development Board (HDB) blocks in areas including Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang and Jurong West have had their lifts installed with such mirrors.

With the mirrors, those in the lift can monitor the people behind them and watch out for crime. A police spokesperson told TODAY the installation is a pilot project by the Jurong Police Division. “The police will continue to monitor and evaluate the feedback received from the public to further enhance our crime prevention efforts,” the spokesperson added.

Offences such as theft, robbery and outrage of modesty are among the crimes that have been committed in lifts. However, although the mirrors have been in the lifts for almost four months, retiree Ang Bah Chee, 61, like many of the residents TODAY spoke to, were puzzled by their function. “I noticed the mirror but didn’t know what it is for,” said Mr Ang, who has lived in Jurong for 11 years.

Once it was explained to them, however, they agreed it was a good idea that provided peace of mind. Technical officer Asokan Muthu, 51, who has been living in Jurong for the past two decades, said: “If someone stands behind me, I can observe and see what’s going on behind me.”

Jurong GRC Members of Parliament TODAY spoke to said crimes committed in lifts were not a common concern among residents, but said the move would act as an extra deterrent in addition to the CCTV cameras installed at most HDB blocks.

Mr Ang Wei Neng said installing the mirrors are not as costly as CCTV cameras, but they still act an immediate measure to deter crime.

Mr David Ong, who is also the chairman of Jurong Town Council, said the move is “proactive – to nip the would-be crime before it happens”. Apart from helping residents be more aware of their surroundings, the mirrors are good for self-security as “residents can see what’s going on behind them when they are in the lift”, he said.

Mdm Halimah Yacob, who is also Speaker of Parliament, said the mirrors have not been installed at the HDB blocks in her constituency, but the CCTV cameras at lift landings have already helped to improve security.

“Feedback from residents have been very positive as they feel safer,” she said. “In fact, they told me that cases of unknown persons loitering at their void decks which happened in the past have also disappeared.”

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