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Home / News / More done on preventive education front to fight drug abuse rise  
Published: 05 Oct 2011 10:00AM (Singapore)
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More done on preventive education front to fight drug abuse rise
Despite the under-reported figures in drug abuser arrests from 2008 to 2010, the Central Narcotics Bureau has been stepping up their preventive drug education efforts during the same period.
By Tan Yi Wen
The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) discovered an error in the computation of drug abuser arrests statistics from 2008 to 2010, but preventive education and enforcements efforts were not compromised. PHOTO: Chen Shuyi

Even as the number of drug abusers arrested from 2008 to 2010 had increased instead of the earlier reported decrease, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) has been stepping up their preventive education efforts during the same period.

The corrected number of drug abuser arrests is 2,887 cases in 2010, an increase from 2,211 cases in 2007.

In the latest half-year drug situation report, the number of drug abusers arrested from January to June 2011 is 1,741, a 20% increase compared to the first half of 2010.

CNB Director Mr Ng Boon Gay said the error was discovered in March 2011, when the bureau noticed a discrepancy between its statistical report of a downward trend in drug abusers arrests and its ground operations and intelligence reports, where officers were reporting an increase in drug abuser arrests.

The error was found to have begun in 2008 when CNB moved to a new system of computing the number of drug abuse cases.

The error has since been rectified after the team had conducted a thorough audit of the system and the computation process.

Of concern is the number of new drug abusers arrests in 2010, which now stands at 46% of total drug abuser arrests, instead of the previously reported 30%.

However, the number of new drug abuser arrests in the first half of 2011 decreased by 5% compared to the same period last year.

A task force chaired by Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Mr Masagos Zulkifli has been set up to look into this group of first-time drug abusers.

CNB Director Mr Ng Boon Gay (left) briefs Minister of Home Affairs Mr Teo Chee Hean on the local drug situation and the types of drugs during Mr Teo’s visit to a drug supervision centre co-located at Bedok Police Division. PHOTO: Tan Yi Wen

Enforcement and preventive education efforts unaffected

However, Mr Ng stressed that this error has not affected CNB’s enforcement efforts, and investigation of individual cases were properly conducted in accordance to the law.

Mr Ng said: “CNB has always adopted a zero tolerance approach in our drug control strategy. One case of drug abuse is one case too many,”

“Therefore, even when a downward drug trend was reported, CNB continued to intensify our enforcement and preventive education efforts based on ground intelligence,” he added.

According to the CNB news release, the budget for preventive education outreach increased by 18% from about $1.05 million in 2007 to an average of $1.24 million annually between 2008 and 2010.

Youths are encouraged to participate in the many activities such as penning down anti-drug pledges during the annual Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign organised by CNB. PHOTO: Haikal Jamari

To help decrease the number of new drug abusers and educate the public on the anti-drug message, CNB’s Preventive Education Unit (PEU) has been conducting many outreach programmes, most of which are targeted at youths.

These programmes include the popular Danceworks!, a dance competition where youths choreograph and incorporate anti-drug abuse messages into their dance performances.

Another of such programmes is the Flash Games Competition where youths create Flash-based computer games that focuses on the the anti-drug abuse content.

PEU’s Senior Assistant Director Ms Yong Fe Ping, said: “Most of our programmes and activities such as DanceWorks! and the Flash Games Competition are targeted at people up to 25 years old.” 

“The focus target group of our Preventive Drug Education (PDE) efforts is youths below 25, because our approach is based on the theory of social inoculation and we want to educate them from young,” she added.

Organised by CNB and the National Council Against Drug Abuse, Danceworks! is an annual dance competition held in conjunction with the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign. It aims to promote the anti-drug abuse among youths. PHOTO: Tan Yi Wen

Besides these programmes and activities for youths, Ms Yong said CNB also organises talks for parents and young working adults that cover topics such as the legal consequences of drug offences, the tell-tale signs and the harmful effects of drug abuse.

Some of CNB’s PDE activities and events are also open to the public such as the annual Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign, DanceWorks! and Sportzamania, a sports tournament of Captain’s Ball and Futsal.

PEU has also made used of social media such as Facebook and YouTube to engage a wider audience for the fight against drugs.

Youth Futsal participants of Sportzamania, a sports tournament organised by CNB, greet Guest-of-Honour Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Mr Masagos Zulkifli. PHOTO: Haikal Jamari

Collaborating with community partners to fight drug abuse

To continue their fight against drugs, CNB also works closely with community partners and Home Team Departments (HTDs), such as the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Agency (SANA), the National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA), the Singapore Police Force, the Singapore Prison Service and the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises.

Community partners have also taken the initiative to help fight drug abuse.

For example, NCADA has increased their efforts in the annual Clubs Against Drugs Campaign.

The annual Clubs Against Drugs Campaign targets club-goers, who are most likely to fall within the 20-29 age group, where 44% of the new drug abusers arrested in the first half of 2011 are from.

Besides the Clubs Against Drugs Campaign organised by NCADA, CNB-organised events such as the Danceworks! finals held at Titanium, a club popular with the young crowd, also helps to engage more club-going people. PHOTO: Loh Jin Feng

For the 2010 campaign, NCADA engaged the club goers directly and brought part of the campaign onto the social media for a wider audience reach.

NCADA Chairman Dr N Varaprasad said: “As partners in preventive drug education, NCADA and CNB will continue to work closely together to bring the anti-drug message to the general public, especially our young and those at risk like club-goers.”

He added: “We are confident that through these efforts, a heightened awareness of the harmful effects of drugs can be achieved and the drug situation in Singapore will remain under control.”

Find out more information on CNB’s Preventive Drug Education programmes and activities here.

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