Written by Administrator
Tuesday, 21 December 2010 06:12
AsiaViews, Edition: 33/VII/November2010
Although the police have stepped up patrols near the scenes of rampage in the aftermath of the brazen slashing incidents in Downtown East and Bukit Panjang, more can be done to keep these petulant hoodlums at bay: By letting these ruffians know they are being watched.
Minister of State (Home Affairs and Education) Masagos Zulkifli said at a press conference on Tuesday that the police have good intelligence on those involved in or associated with gangs. This, however, does not have the same deterrent effect as having these thugs know the authorities can easily track them down should they break the law.
To that end, police officers ought to actively take down the particulars of those suspected of belonging to street gangs whenever they turn up at their usual hangouts, such as shopping malls, games arcades, billiard salons and cyber-gaming cafes - as commonly done when gangs were rampant here decades ago.
With all the police intelligence that has been gathered, police should be able to tell the difference between an innocent youth outing and a gathering of wayward youth.
As retired police detective Lionel de Souza said: "We used to conduct regular operations in the known areas of congregation of the gangs to tell them: 'We know what you are doing, we are watching you'."
Police Supervision Orders can also be imposed on known associates of gangs, which requires them to report once a week at their neighbourhood police station, he added. This requires cooperation by all stakeholders. Mall security guards, shopowners and members of the public should notify the police whenever they see these youths loitering, and officers should be on the scene promptly.
With fewer venues to congregate, these "street corner gangs", who have no specific aims, may also die a natural death.
The principle is similar to the Youths Hanging Out Late initiative started in 2006, which targets only those below age 17.
This will also reach those who fall through the cracks in the existing myriad programmes targeting at-risk youths, especially out-of-school youths and at-risk youths above age 17, whom Mr Masagos himself acknowledged are the hardest group for agencies to reach out to.
The authorities have already come out to say these young thugs will face the full brunt of the law; even the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act has been waved as a warning.
While the Ministry of Home Affairs contemplates over the next six to nine months on the appropriate sentencing options and police powers that can specifically deal with the street gang scourge, such a move can hopefully scare these youths off committing worse offences.
In the Downtown East incident, one young life was already needlessly lost. And several more are staring at the gallows, if they are convicted.
These youths would be better off fearing the consequences than actually facing them.
By: Teo Xuanwei
Today 18 November 2010
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 December 2010 06:12 )