Social media an 'invaluable' tool in modern policing: MP

Images from a close-circuit television (CCTV) showing a female pickpocket who got away with more than $2,000 cash from 10 elderly men. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
Images from a close-circuit television (CCTV) showing a female pickpocket who got away with more than $2,000 cash from 10 elderly men. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

SINGAPORE - Social media has proven to be an invaluable tool in modern policing, said Member of Parliament Arthur Fong, who cited how it helped police to nab a handphone thief within 12 hours on one occasion.

Delivering the opening address at a seminar on community policing strategies on Monday, Mr Fong, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law, recounted how the Bukit Merah East Neighbourhood Police Centre accomplished the feat by posting CCTV images of the crime on Facebook.

The post was viewed over 2,000 times and eventually reached the eyes of a relative of the suspect, who then persuaded the suspect to turn himself in.

Mr Fong said Singapore's policing methods have to evolve continually with changes in population and population demographics, and noted that involvement by the community has increased over the years.

For instance the Community Policing System (Cops), where police officers in polo tees patrol the neighbourhoods on bicycles, has already been adopted in 28 neighbourhoods. By June next year, all 35 neighbourhood police centres would have the system in place.

Since May 2012, 18,000 police cameras have also been installed in 3,300 HDB blocks and multi-storey carparks and all of Singapore's 10,000 HDB blocks and multi-storey carparks will have such electronic eyes by the end of 2016.

Mr Fong said Singapore's experiences have shown that a sustained Police-Community partnership is the most effective way to keep the country a safe home for all its residents, and added that the seminar provides a good platform for police officers from different countries to learn and share about various community policing strategies.

The five-day seminar at Amara Hotel is part of the Japan- Singapore Partnership Programme for the 21st Century and covers community policing strategies and Singapore's NPC system, which was adapted from the Japanese "Koban" system.

Some 35 representatives from the police forces of 15 countries are attending the annual seminar this year.