COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY DEBATE: MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS

Police force to boost numbers, enhance service

Roles of NSFs and NSmen to be expanded; Home Team to harness data and technology

The police force will step up recruitment, enhance its scheme of service and, alongside the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), expand the roles of full-time national servicemen (NSFs) and operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen).

The Home Team will also take on a more data-driven approach and harness technology effectively.

These were among announcements addressing manpower concerns made by Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam at the Committee of Supply debate yesterday.

Among those who raised questions were Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC), who asked about the Home Team's slowing pace of recruitment, and Mr Melvin Yong (Tanjong Pagar GRC), who addressed the declining number of police NSFs.

These issues are exacerbated by a greying population, growing traveller and cargo volumes, with land checkpoints handling almost 400,000 travellers a day, and new types of crime such as cybercrime.

Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Home Affairs Besides using data analytics to anticipate where emergencies may take place while deploying resources to focus on hot spots, there will be a greater use of technology at Singapore checkpoints as well, said Mr Shanmugam. This is to manage the Home Team's workload with limited resources.

Such developments will have a "profound impact on the complexity and volume of work" handled by the Home Team, said Mr Shanmugam.

He added that "all these factors increase the workload on the Home Team" which has 170 police officers for every 100,000 people, a low number compared with cities such as London.

To manage the workload, a new operating model is needed, he said.

Besides using data analytics to anticipate where emergencies may take place while deploying resources to focus on hot spots, there will be a greater use of technology at Singapore checkpoints as well, said Mr Shanmugam.

By the end of the year, all motorcyclists passing through the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints will be screened by automated clearance facilities, and there will be more self-service immigration facilities at Changi Airport Terminal 4.

The police will also implement a single-rank structure for officers, and diploma holders will have "seamless advancement opportunities up the ranks", said Mr Shanmugam.

The police will step up recruitment this year to fill new posts, such as in its Emergency Response teams, and expert tracks will be introduced as well, he added.

Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin also said that NSFs and NSmen will soon take on an expanded role.

Over the next few years, more national servicemen will be deployed to front-line positions, leadership roles and specialist positions, said Mr Amrin.

The police force will set up a Protective Security Command comprising both NSF and NSmen units.

The SCDF has established new NSmen positions in its Marine Command and will place more servicemen in operational roles such as in its Emergency Medical Services.

Mr Shanmugam also highlighted an increasing trend of abuse against Home Team officers. Last year, 344 such cases were reported - working out to about one case per day.

He added that this is "unacceptable", and that firm action would be taken against such abusive people, including prosecuting them and pressing for stiff sentences.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2016, with the headline 'Police force to boost numbers, enhance service'. Print Edition | Subscribe