Police officer fined $10,000 for illegal search on computer system

Kang's offences came to light in July last year after a supervisory audit check on Focus revealed several unauthorised screenings done by him.
Kang's offences came to light in July last year after a supervisory audit check on Focus revealed several unauthorised screenings done by him.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A senior staff sergeant who used the police computer system to do an unauthorised search for his brother-in-law's girlfriend was sentenced to the maximum fine of $10,000 on Wednesday .

Kang Wei Chian, 40, had pleaded guilty to two of seven charges of computer misuse at Police Cantonment Complex in May last year.

The policeman with 22 years' of good service had logged into the Frontline Officers' Computerised System (Focus) to search for a unit in Tanglin Halt Road which his brother-in-law and his girlfriend wanted to buy.

They suspected that the unit might have been subjected to harassment from an unlicensed moneylender.

After doing a search and determining that there were no hits against the unit, Kang informed the girlfriend of his brother-in-law, that it was safe to buy.

Focus, which is under the Ministry of Home Affairs, allows police officers to lodge reports and carry out online searches for details of reports lodged by members of the public.

It also contains, among other things, personal information of complainants, victims and witnesses.

All police officers know that the system can be used only for official purposes.

Kang's offences came to light in July last year after a supervisory audit check on Focus revealed several unauthorised screenings done by Kang.

The prosecution had sought four weeks' jail for Kang, but his lawyer Daniel Atticus Xu had urged the court to impose a high fine or a short detention order.

District Judge John Ng said on Wednesday he was satisfied that what Kang had done was a "foolish act'' rather than abuse of his power for nefarious activities.

"So I am satisfied that a custodial sentence is not necessary in this case," he said.

The judge noted that there have been similar cases in the past where a non-jail sentence was imposed but a heavy fine.

"I am sure other police officers will be warned by what has happened today...what has happened to you. Unfortunately, you tried to help your wife.. and now your wife has abandoned you,'' he said.

Kang, who has been suspended from duty, is undergoing divorce proceedings.

He could have been fined up to $5,000 and jailed for up to two years on each charge.