Singapore is a very safe place to live or visit and the crime rate is very low compared to most western countries, and ranks number 2 in the 2015 Economist Safe Cities Index (behind only Tokyo). There are some limited instances of pickpocketing but walking the streets in Singapore is safe for both men and women at any time of the day or night (although common sense should always be applied!).

There are, however, a range of offences that it is easy for foreigners to commit unwittingly and should you do so you might find yourself receiving an on-the-spot-fine.  Foreigners do not receive any preferential treatment in these instances, so do be aware that chewing gum (yes, it’s true), littering, jaywalking, eating on the MRT and smoking in public places are prohibited.

Having said this, the police force in Singapore is effective and efficient without being overly officious and responds well to reports of crime or danger.  The police can be called for free on 999.

The use of caning and capital punishment are, unsurprisingly, the most controversial aspects of law enforcement in Singapore.  Caning consists of a criminal’s buttocks being whipped with a rattan cane (known as a rotan).  It is mandatory in cases of vandalism and has also been used against those convicted of dealing in pornography, violence and for some traffic offences.

In Singapore the death penalty is carried out by hanging and is mandatory for drug trafficking, murder, kidnapping and firearm offences.  It really can’t be emphasised enough that Singapore’s drug laws are extremely strict (even having traces of drugs in your system as you enter the country is illegal) and that foreigners will be treated with the same severity as locals.

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Moving Overseas as an Expat