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Number of drug abusers arrested fell 19% in first half of 2014: CNB

Two-third of first-time drug abusers arrested were below 30 years old, the Central Narcotics Bureau said in its half-year statistics report.

SINGAPORE: The total number of drug abusers arrested in the first half of 2014 dropped 19 per cent year-on-year, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said on Thursday (Aug 14).

Heroin and methamphetamine remain the top two most commonly abused drugs.

In its half-year statistics press release, the CNB said the total number of drug abusers arrested fell to 1,524 this year from 1,893 over the same period in 2013. Arrests of repeat offenders also dropped 22 per cent to 1,048, but they continue to form the majority - 69 per cent - of drug abusers arrested.

There was a decrease in the drug abusers arrested across all age groups, except for those "Below 20" which remained at 89, the same as the corresponding period in 2013. The biggest drop was seen for the "30 to 39" age group, which fell from 491 to 324.

Among the first-time drug users arrested in the first six months of this year, 67 per cent were below the age of 30, as compared to 65 per cent in the same period in 2013.

COMMONLY ABUSED DRUGS

Heroin and methamphetamine made up 92 per cent of all drug abusers arrests, with cannabis a distant third at 5 per cent. This was similar to the same period in 2013, CNB said.

There were 814 arrests for heroin abuses and 592 for methamphetamine in the first six months. New methamphetamine abusers constituted about 67 per cent, or 317, of arrests, followed by heroin at 15 per cent, or 72 arrests.

The data showed there was a 10 per cent decrease in arrests of inhalant abusers, from 72 in 2013 to 65 this year, with new inhalant abusers dropping by 17 per cent to 25.

REGIONAL DRUG SITUATION "HAS NOT IMPROVED"

As for drug seizures, CNB netted S$4.71 million worth of drugs in the first half of the year. With the exception of methamphetamine tablets, or "yaba", seizures of other drugs decreased.

However, the CNB - quoting the the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report 2014 - said that the regional drug situation has not improved. According to the report, the estimated global production of heroin in 2013 rebounded to the high levels seen in previous years, while the global area of illicit opium cultivation in 2013 was 296,720 hectares, and South-East Asia produced 20.8 per cent of that total, CNB said, citing the UN report.

CNB said Preventive Drug Education (PDE) remains a key approach in its fight against drugs, and it continues to deliver anti-drug talks and exhibitions in schools to drive the message through to the masses.

"To enhance the PDE outreach, CNB supported community partners' events and programmes through through conducting anti-drug talks, holding exhibitions and sponsoring of PDE materials including brochures, publications and souvenirs," CNB said.

"CNB also integrates the anti-drug element to Home Team agencies’ programmes including the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) Youth Engagement Progamme to engage youths on the dangers of drugs."

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