Can a Civilian Arrest a Criminal in Singapore?

Last updated on March 11, 2019

Walking along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 2 on your way home from work, you notice a robbery taking place. An old lady is being held at knifepoint and she is about to surrender her valuables. Sizing up the situation, you notice that the robber is a slightly-built man of about 1.67m while you, standing at nearly 1.9m, with 20 years of Aikido training under your belt, can certainly overpower him, knife or no knife. What should you do?

Singapore’s Penal Code provides for the defence of private defence (self-defence). This allows one to defend the body or property of himself or others against harm, without fear of reprisal from the law.

Even further beyond that, section 66 of the Criminal Procedure Code allows civilians (ordinary citizens who are not police officers) to arrest the criminal, but only if the offender has, in the civilian’s view, committed an arrestable offence. The civilian must, without unnecessary delay, then hand over the arrested person to a police officer or take him to a police station.

Examples of arrestable offences can be found below:

  1. Unlawful assemblies or rioting
  2. Impersonation of a public servant
  3. Obstruction a public servant in his duties, or threatening a public servant
  4. Affray (Fighting in public places)
  5. Fouling the water of a public spring or reservoir
  6. Rash or negligent driving
  7. Obscene acts in public
  8. Rape
  9. Theft and robbery
  10. Criminal trespass
  11. Assault or the use of criminal force to a person with intent to outrage modesty (molest)
  12. Acts or attempts that cause or can cause death, including suicide, murder, or other rash acts
  13. Voluntarily causing grievous hurt
  14. Voluntarily causing hurt with a dangerous weapon

For a full list of arrestable offences, refer to the First Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Arrest and Investigation
  1. Police Investigation Process in Singapore
  2. When Can the Police Arrest Someone?: Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
  3. Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
  4. Can a Civilian Arrest a Criminal in Singapore?
  5. Is lying to the police or authorities a punishable offence in Singapore?
  6. Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
  7. What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
  8. Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  9. Do You Have a "Right to Remain Silent" to the Police in Singapore?
  10. The Extradition Act: What If You Commit a Crime and Flee Singapore?
Bail
  1. The Essential Guide to Bail and Personal Bonds in Singapore
Prosecution
  1. Magistrate’s Complaints, Private Summons and Private Prosecutions in Singapore
  2. Prosecutorial Discretion in Singapore
  3. What is Private Prosecution?
  4. Compounding or Composition of Offences in Singapore
  5. Criminal Records in Singapore
  6. Plea Bargaining in Singapore: All You Need to Know
Criminal Proceedings
  1. Criminal Compensation in Singapore
  2. What Can I Do to Protect Myself in Self-Defence in Singapore?
  3. Claiming Trial as an Accused
  4. Mitigation Plea
  5. Pleading Guilty
  6. Criminal Appeals in Singapore
  7. Presidential Clemency in Singapore
  8. Probation in Singapore: Are You Eligible? Will You Have a Criminal Record?
  9. What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
  10. Reformative Training in Singapore: When will it be Ordered?
  11. Visiting a Loved One in Prison (And on Death Row) in Singapore
  12. 7 Detention Orders in Singapore and When Will They be Ordered?
  13. Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
  14. Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
  15. Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
  16. Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
Sexual Offences
  1. What is the Legal Age For Sex in Singapore? What are Some Common Sexual Offences in Singapore?
  2. Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
  3. What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
  4. What is the Law on Sexting in Singapore?
Vice-Related Offences
  1. Is it illegal to visit prostitutes in Singapore?
  2. Is Watching Porn Illegal in Singapore? Or Downloading or Filming Porn?
  3. Drug Misuse Laws in Singapore: Possession, Consumption & Trafficking
  4. When is Gambling Illegal in Singapore?
  5. Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
  6. DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
  7. What is the Legal Drinking Age in Singapore? And Other Drinking-Related Laws
  8. Smoking in Singapore: Legal Age and Penalties for Illegal Smoking
Cybercrime
  1. Is It Illegal to Threaten to Beat Someone Up on Facebook?
  2. Is it illegal to cheat someone of an in-game item in MMORPGs?
  3. What to Do If Someone Impersonates Me Online
White-Collar Crimes
  1. Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) in Singapore: Elements and Penalties
  2. Dishonest assistance and knowing receipt - The case of David Rasif
  3. Anti-Money Laundering Laws and You
  4. All You Need to Know About Corruption in Singapore
  5. 5 Things You Need to Know about Insider Trading
Other Criminal Offences
  1. The Difference Between Murder and Culpable Homicide in Singapore
  2. Is it illegal to commit suicide in Singapore? Will I be punished if my attempt at suicide fails?
  3. Is it illegal to feed stray animals in Singapore?
  4. What are Sham Marriages and are They Illegal in Singapore?
  5. Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore: Police Permits and the Public Order Act
  6. What is the Offence of Rioting?
  7. Voluntarily Causing Hurt in Singapore
  8. Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
  9. Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
  10. Guide to E-Scooter/Personal Mobility Device (PMD) Laws in Singapore
  11. Is Joining a Gang Illegal in Singapore?: Being Recruited and Penalties
  12. What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
  13. Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
  14. Committing Theft in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
Certificate of Clearance
  1. How Do You Apply for a Certificate of Clearance?