Can a civilian arrest a criminal in Singapore?

Last updated on April 20, 2018

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. (Read more on the defence of private defence here.)

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. What Happens During a Police Investigation?
  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 Should You Do if You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence?
  8. Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
Bail
  1. The Essential Guide to Bail 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
Sexual Offences
  1. What is the Legal Age For Sex in Singapore? What are Some Common Sexual Offences in Singapore?
  2. Outrage of modesty in Singapore
  3. What is the law on sexting in Singapore?
Vice-Related Offences
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  2. What is the law on pornography in Singapore?
  3. What are Singapore’s laws on drug consumption?
  4. When is gambling illegal in Singapore?
  5. Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
Cybercrime
  1. Is it illegal to threaten to beat someone up over 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 in Singapore
  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. Are sham marriages illegal in Singapore? What are the consequences?
  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. Riding an E-Scooter? Here's a Guide to E-Scooter Laws in Singapore
Certificate of Clearance
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