Police record a dozen reports of abuse against COVID-19 safe distancing officers, including man who headbutted officer

Police record a dozen reports of abuse against COVID-19 safe distancing officers, including man who headbutted officer

Safe distancing enforcement officers will get red armbands
Enforcement officers will get red armbands so members of the public can identify them more easily. (Photo: Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources)

SINGAPORE: The number of abuse cases against safe distancing enforcement officers and ambassadors has gone up since elevated measures kicked in, with multiple cases of abuse reported to the police in recent days, the authorities said on Friday (Apr 17).

As of Thursday, the police have received 12 reports of members of the public physically or verbally abusing enforcement officers and ambassadors while they were carrying out their duties, said the Singapore Police Force and the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources in a joint release.

"We will not tolerate this, and will take offenders to task," said the authorities.

One of these cases involved a 40-year-old man, who headbutted an enforcement officer after he was told to stop playing basketball at a cordoned-off multi-purpose hall in Khatib.

In another case on Wednesday along Havelock Road, a 79-year-old man punched an enforcement officer who told him to wear his face mask properly.

Also on Wednesday, a 72-year-old man slapped an enforcement officer who asked for his particulars after he saw the man eating food at a hawker centre along Circuit Road.

A man was seen consuming food at the cooked food section of the hawker centre
A man was seen consuming food at the cooked food section of the hawker centre at Block 89 Circuit Road on Apr 15, 2020/. (Photo: National Environment Agency)

READ: Action taken against those who violated safe distancing rules at markets, hawker centres; enforcement officer hit by man: NEA

Other cases involved verbal abuse against officers. 

On Thursday, a 37-year-old man insulted a police officer who had fined his friend for not wearing a face mask outside The Cathay shopping mall.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, a 35-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman "hurled vulgarities" at three safe distancing ambassadors who had told the man not to sit on a crossed-out seat at a hawker centre along Toa Payoh Lorong 5.

Police investigations are ongoing. 

Anyone found guilty of using abusive language against a public servant could be jailed for up to 12 months, fined up to S$5,000, or both. 

Anyone who voluntarily causes hurt to deter a public servant from the discharge of their duty could be jailed for up to seven years, fined or caned. 

Those who use criminal force to deter a public servant from the discharge of their duty could be jailed for up to four years, fined or both.

"The police would like to remind members of the public that it is an offence not to furnish their personal particulars and residential address when required by an enforcement officer," added the release.

The authorities also advised members of the public to take official identification with them when they leave the house.

Since elevated safe distancing measures kicked in on Apr 7, as part of a "circuit breaker" to curb the spread of COVID-19, around 3,000 enforcement officers and ambassadors have been deployed daily to public places and Housing and Development Board estates across Singapore, said the authorities.

Under the tighter precautions, non-essential workplaces and schools have closed across the island and strict physical distancing measures have been put in place.

It is also mandatory to wear a mask when leaving the house, apart from a few exceptions.

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Source: CNA/nc(ac)

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