Number of drug abusers arrested hits 6-year high
New users make up 42% of the 3,524 nabbed
More drug abusers were arrested by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) last year with a marked increase in the use of methamphetamine and new psychoactive substances (NPS) among those caught.
There were 3,524 abusers arrested, the highest in six years and 2 per cent up on 2018, the CNB noted yesterday.
Meth, heroin and NPS figured most highly in the arrests.
The CNB noted that 63 per cent of all abusers arrested last year took meth while 19 per cent used heroin. NPS abusers made up 12 per cent.
Officers arrested about 60 more meth users than in 2018 and about 70 more NPS users.
Responding to a query on the rise in meth and NPS users here, CNB said the production and trafficking of meth in the region had "worsened significantly in recent years" and will have an impact on the local situation.
"There has also been a rapid increase in the number, type and availability of NPS across the globe," said CNB, noting the emergence of new substances is a continuous challenge for all law-enforcement agencies.
CNB director Ng Ser Song said: "We must also not underestimate the impact of social media and mass media in spreading misinformation that normalises drug use, especially among our young."
Mr Ng said another area of concern is the proportion of new drug abusers arrested last year, which "remained high".
This group made up about 42 per cent of all abusers arrested - up about 8 per cent from 2018 to 1,469.
About three in five of these new drug abusers were under 30 years old. But there was also a spike in the number of older new drug abusers arrested last year, with 93 aged 50 and above, almost double the number from 2018.
Most new drug users took meth with 73 per cent of new abusers caught for the drug last year.
But NPS has overtaken cannabis as the second most commonly abused drug among new abusers, with users of these narcotics making up around 10 per cent of the new-abuser population.
About 38 per cent of drug abusers arrested last year were below 30.
The CNB seized about $6.52 million worth of drugs in street value - 31.1kg of crystalline meth - also known as Ice - 27.8kg of cannabis and 37.8kg of heroin, among other drug types.
It also dismantled 28 drug syndicates and conducted around 1,400 operations with other Home Team agencies to foil drug smuggling attempts.