Fri, Apr 17, 2009
my paper
Spike in loanshark harassment cases

By Rachel Chan

UNLICENSED moneylenders will have to deal with more than just the boys in blue from now on.

To tackle a rising number of harassment cases this year, police are installing more CCTVs and roping in netizens to battle the scourge.

The police received nearly 4,000 complaints of harassment from loansharks in the first three months of this year - up from just 2,066 in the same period last year.

In the latest case, cops nabbed a 22-year-old man in his Bukit Batok home on Wednesday for suspected involvement in a series of loansharking activities. He is believed to be a debtor who turned to loansharking to pay off his debts.

Commenting on the trend of harassment from loansharks, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng said at a police workplan seminar yesterday: "In addition (to more CCTVs), the ministry will also consider making borrowing from loansharks an offence."

He also addressed the challenges posed by the upcoming integrated resorts. "These elements will heighten the risk of undesirable activities such as money laundering, cheating, forgery, illegal moneylending and prostitution," he said.

A new neighbourhood police centre (NPC) to spearhead the police's efforts in maintaining security in downtown Singapore will become operational in June.

It will be temporarily located at the Police Cantonment Complex before moving to the Marina Bay area by the end of this year. The new NPC will eventually be co-located with a new fire station when construction for both are completed in 2012, Mr Wong said.

The workload of frontline police officers will also be eased by the addition of 220 new posts at NPCs.

Police Commissioner Khoo Boon Hui said: "High-profile international events such as the various Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings this year and the Youth Olympics in 2010...will create many new demands on police services."

The seminar also showcased the ability of the Special Operations Command to combat terrorism, as well as a new mobile Forward Command Vehicle, a Neighbourhood Alert Beacon (NAB) system and a new automated firing system being tested by the Police Coast Guard.

The NAB system, comprising a red beacon with an in-built CCTV, is designed to alert community partners at the press of a button.

It is a community-based project that will be launched at selected national parks in the near future, said Queenstown NPC Station Inspector Dominic Gerard Theseira.

Watch video: Harassed by loansharks

See also: Damage caused by loansharks


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