Fewer drug abusers arrested in 2016, but more new drug abusers caught

Fewer drug abusers arrested in 2016, but more new drug abusers caught

Close to two-thirds of new drug abusers arrested were below 30 years old, says the Central Narcotics Bureau.

SINGAPORE: The total number of drug abusers arrested fell in 2016, but there was an increase in the number of new drug abusers that were caught, according to the Central Narcotics Bureau's (CNB) annual statistics released on Monday (Feb 13).

According to CNB, 3,245 drug abusers were arrested last year, a 3 per cent decrease from the year before. The number of repeat drug abusers arrested also went down 7 per cent from 2,034 in 2015 to 1,898 last year.

However, the number of new drug abusers arrested rose 3 per cent to 1,347 from 2015's 1,309. Among the new abusers arrested, close to two-thirds were below 30 years old, according to the latest statistics.

About 41 per cent of the total drug abusers arrested last year were under 30, CNB figures showed.

CNB 2016 infographic

A snapshot of Singapore's drug situation in 2016. (Infographic: CNB)

There has also been a rise in online drug peddling, with the number of people arrested for buying drugs and drug-related paraphernalia online increasing significantly from 30 in 2015 to 201 last year - a 570 per cent jump, the report showed.

Most of those found to have obtained drugs or drug-related paraphernalia online were between the ages of 20 and 39, it added.

"It has become easy for anyone to order items on the Internet and have them delivered by post or courier. Drug syndicates and peddlers have taken advantage of the borderless nature of the Internet to conduct illegal drug activities," the agency said.

"CNB will continue to work closely with its Home Team counterparts and strategic partners to build up its detection and enforcement capabilities against online drug trafficking activities."

The regional and global drug situations also "remain of concern" with regional seizures of drugs like methamphetamine and cannabis remaining high, CNB said.

The 2016 World Drug Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) reported that methamphetamine seizures in East and Southeast Asia almost quadrupled between 2009 and 2014. The UNODC 2016 World Drug Report also indicated that cannabis remained the most widely cultivated drug crop, and continued to be the most trafficked drug worldwide, the report said.

Looking ahead to 2017, CNB said it will step up its efforts to engage youths on the danger of drugs. For instance, it appointed footballer Irfan Fandi as its anti-drug advocate last month, and it hopes more youth advocates will join its Anti-Drug Advocate Programme to help fight drug abuse in this age demographic.

It will also refresh its annual Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign this year with a renewed focus on involving youths in the fight against drugs, as well as enhance its social media efforts, the agency added.

Source: CNA/kk