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  • I-Witness
Published 15 April 2024
3-min Read

Get an inside look at recent operations by the SPF and other foreign law enforcement agencies against child abuse materials.

By: Domnic Dass

A graphic image of a person typing on a keyboard in the dark with white text overlaid on it
GRAPHICS: Domnic Dass

In February and March 2024, the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the seven Land Divisions, in collaboration with the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) and the Korean National Police Agency (KNPA), conducted raids at 236 locations across Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea. Police Life followed along with our dedicated officers on an enforcement operation targeting child abuse materials.

0530 Hours: Ready to Move

The CID’s Specialised Crime Branch (SCB) is dedicated to combating vice-related crimes, illegal gambling, online child sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. 

We arrived at the SCB at four o’clock in the morning. Following a final briefing, SCB officers set off for their destination. Before the break of dawn, they’d arrived at the suspect’s residence, a maisonette unit. 

Once the signal was given, two Investigation Officers (IOs) knocked on the front door. They were greeted by the suspect’s parents, who informed the IOs that their son was asleep on the second floor of their unit. Entering the dimly lit unit, the officers ascended the stairs to the suspect’s room. They knocked and waited for the suspect to open the door.

three people looking at the computer screen
The IOs find child abuse materials in one of the seized storage devices of the suspect. PHOTO: Ryan Quek

The suspect confirmed his identity and was questioned by the IOs about the viewing, downloading and distribution of child abuse materials. Forensics officers also began to process the scene, before the IOs secured a number of electronic and storage devices as evidence.

two officers in plain clothes holding onto a male who is handcuffed and leading him to the lift lobby
The suspect is arrested and brought back for further questioning. PHOTO: Ryan Quek

A Cross-border Collaboration 
The five-week operation involving SPF, HKPF and KNPA culminated in the apprehension of 272 individuals, aged between 12 and 73, for online child sexual exploitation offences. During these operations, electronic devices, including 50 computers, 26 laptops, 39 handphones, 6 tablets, 91 storage devices and 1 router, associated with the alleged crimes found at 44 locations in Singapore were seized.

korean police raiding a person's home and checking their electronics
Enforcement operations conducted in South Korea. PHOTOS: KNPA

In Singapore, 28 men, aged between 18 and 59, were arrested for allegedly possessing, gaining access, and distributing child abuse materials; sexual communication with minors; transmission and sale of obscene materials; and investigated for the offence of possession of obscene films. In the course of investigations, Police have also uncovered a network comprising one seller and seven buyers of child abuse materials in Singapore. Another 16 subjects, aged between 22 and 70, are assisting with Police investigations.

two officers in black and orange casual wear, respectively, asking a male subject in white singlet some questions
SCB officers interview a suspect during an enforcement operation. PHOTO: Ryan Quek

If convicted, an individual who has in possession, or has gained access to child abuse material, and knows or believes that the material is child abuse material, shall face imprisonment for up to five years, and be liable to a fine or caning. 

Similarly, individuals who distribute, or sell, or offer for sale child abuse material or have in possession child abuse material for the purpose of distribution, sale or offer for sale, or knows or believes the material is child abuse material may face imprisonment for up to seven years, and shall also be liable to a fine or caning. 

Sparing No Effort
“It’s important for law enforcement agencies to take tough and coordinated enforcement actions against online child sexual exploitation activities, including the possession and distribution of child abuse materials,” said 1 Deputy Director of CID, Assistant Commissioner of Police Yeo Yee Chuan. “Crimes against children cannot be condoned. Singapore takes a serious view of child sexual exploitation and abuse, and will spare no effort to protect children from such harm. Those found engaging in such activities will be dealt firmly in accordance with the law.”

Want to learn more about this series of cross-border enforcement operations? Click here to find out more. Also, read about the SCB’s Cyber Guardian Lab and the Crimes Against Children Forum 2023 to learn about how the Police deals with the threat of online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

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