SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The National Environment Agency (NEA) has asked a Bedok resident to help investigate after a thermal camera caught a person smoking outside his unit on several occasions.
A letter from the NEA dated June 6 and sent to the renter of a unit in Block 620, Bedok Reservoir Road said it had a video showing "people smoking in the hallway … and entering / leaving the unit" on 12 occasions.
The offenses occurred between April 11 and 14 of this year, from 16:30 to 23:20.
"Our investigations have revealed that you are the lessee of this premise," according to the letter seen by the CNA.
"You are here required to take reasonable steps to provide relevant information about the offense, such as the identity and address of the person who was smoking or the timing of the alleged offense."
State Environment and Water Minister Amy Khor said in September last year that the NEA was exploring "the use of thermal cameras to prevent indiscriminate smoking."
14 DAYS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION
In response to the CNA's questions, the NEA said it had received 13 complaints related to smokers on the block since February 2019.
"After receiving feedback from residents, NEA distributed educational pamphlets and worked with the city council to engage the residents," he added.
"NEA also conducted several rounds of surveillance on the block, including the deployment of a thermal camera."
During this deployment, NEA said a "subject" was seen smoking in the hallway on 12 occasions.
"The NEA has initiated investigations, which include delivering the letter to the lessee, and will take appropriate action after completing the investigations," he said.
Read: NEA will use cameras to detect illegal smoke – here's how it could work
In the letter, the NEA said that the renter had 14 days from the date of the letter to provide information about the offense.
The letter also stated that if the tenant did not provide the information within 14 days, he could be charged under Section 4B of the Prohibition in Certain Places Act.
"If (convicted), you will be subject to a fine not to exceed $ 2,000 for an offense for the first time."
70 THERMAL CHAMBER DEPARTMENTS SINCE JANUARY
In its response to the CNA, NEA reported that since January it has conducted about 70 deployments of thermal cameras in residential areas and other areas that have had persistent feedback on smoking-related issues.
"The thermal camera allows NEA to further improve our surveillance operations and the ability to detect smoke in prohibited areas," he added.
"These thermal cameras are capable of detecting objects emitting high heat and can capture images of the crime of smoking."
In 2018, NEA issued more than 30,000 tickets to smoking in prohibited areas.
"The NEA will continue to take action against smokers who disregard the law," he said.