In some quarters, Batam has an undeserved reputation as a "dangerous hotbed of crime, commercial sex, drugs and general lawlessness." Much of this impression has been created by sensationalized media reports in sanitized Singapore where some of the powers that be look disapprovingly at having a full-blown, low-cost, good-time playground on their doorstep, and so they try to scare their people into staying (and spending) at home.
There also is a view in other parts of Indonesia (particularly among those with "conservative" Muslim moral values) that Batam is a "loose" and "dangerous" place.
The reality is that Batam (the Nagoya and Jodoh districts, in particular) does have a measure of crime, drugs, commercial sex and maybe even some danger as has just about any other sizeable city in the world, particularly cities with a vibrant entertainment district. But unless you seek it out you are quite unlikely to be touched by any of it.
There are seedy areas and a few no-go districts and a lot of poor and unemployed who will steal or commit other petty crimes to survive. Homes are locked with grated windows (just as they are in places like the inner suburbs of Sydney or American cities). Shopping centers, public offices and hotels are manned by security staff.
Overall, however, Batam is much less dangerous and frightening than the ghettos of the U.S., Europe other Asian countries and other Indonesian cities. Foreign residents, travelers or businesspeople who exercise common sense, courtesy, care and prudence are seldom affected or need to feel threatened.
A mugging here will make front-page news. Can you imagine a routine street crime making the front pages of a newspaper in New York, London or Sydney?