Fewer immigration offences in 2017, but more cases of contraband smuggling and sham marriages

Traffic entering and leaving Singapore via the Woodlands Checkpoint. (Yahoo file photo)

Fewer immigration offenders were arrested in 2017, even as cases of contraband smuggling rose, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) announced on Thursday (8 February).

According to the latest ICA Statistics Report, 1,176 immigration offenders were arrested last year, down from 1,278 the year before – an 8-per-cent decrease. These included illegal immigrants and overstayers, arrests for which declined 14.3 per cent and 6.7 per cent, respectively.

Arrests of those who harboured or employed immigration offenders went down 14.5 per cent in 2017, from 351 to 300 cases.

Smuggling of contraband did rise last year. Some 90,327 cases were reported in 2017, up from 88,050 in 2016. ICA noted that heavy commercial vehicles were cause for concern as their large size enables large quantities of contraband or even dangerous materials to be concealed.

And although the number of such cases was low, marriages of convenience saw a sharp uptick. In 2017, 53 people were arrested for offences related to sham marriages – a 23.3-per-cent increase compared to 43 in 2016.

ICA said that tough laws, stringent security checks at the checkpoints and enforcement operations “remained effective” in keeping immigration offences under control, adding that close collaboration with agencies like the police and the Ministry of Manpower was also key.

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