Singapore steps up security for festive period

A police K-9 unit patrolling Changi Airport’s Terminal 2.
A police K-9 unit patrolling Changi Airport’s Terminal 2.PHOTO: ST FILE

Expect tighter security and more bag checks in Singapore this festive season, with Monday's attack in Berlin serving as the latest reminder of the global terror threat.

Security companies are reporting a rising demand for their services from shopping malls, event organisers and local attractions.

On Monday, the police said there will be greater police presence and increased checks on bags during the festive period.

Police and security officers will also be deployed for year-end festivities such as the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown, which will see two major roads in the Civic District - St Andrew's Road and Connaught Drive - closed to vehicles.

Entertainment spaces such as the Esplanade, which houses a mall, are also taking more security measures.

 
 
 
 

"These include increasing security patrols and maintaining a greater visibility for our security personnel so that members of the public can approach them where necessary," said Mr Ravi Sivalingam, its head of hospitality and services.

Resorts World Sentosa - which has attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore and shopping outlets - will also be stepping up security protocols to tackle the threat of terrorism. Its spokesman said: "We have stepped up our security measures at all our attractions by deploying more security personnel across the integrated resort to monitor for any unusual activities."

Front-line staff are also being trained to identify suspicious people and items, and respond appropriately during a terrorist attack.

Security firms are also beefing up their numbers to cope with countdown parties and celebrations.

With extended hours for shopping malls and public transport operations, a Certis Cisco spokesman said that the firm usually hires part- time officers to complement its existing pool of 7,000 staff.

Another firm, Soverus, said that it typically hires at least 600 ad hoc guards for countdown events, in addition to its force of 750.

Singapore has kept its guard up following reports that the terror threat is greater this festive season.

Pico Guards, which deploys 480 security officers across 60 locations, said that since the middle of last month, almost all its clients had asked for more security patrols.

Last year, only half of them made requests for greater security.

"Increasing patrols and security presence in the malls means deterring potential terrorist attacks," said Pico's deputy managing director Pierce Ang. "So our guards have to work extra hard to do more rounds with increased vigilance."

He added that guards also attend refresher training courses to learn about counter-terrorism measures, and work with cleaning and retail staff to spot suspicious activity.

Mr Ang said: "Given the heightened security risks worldwide and the recent terror events, such attacks can happen any time. The threat must be taken seriously."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore steps up security for festive period'. Print Edition | Subscribe