Penalty regime for security officers overly harsh

Security officers often work long shifts without adequate rest.
Security officers often work long shifts without adequate rest.PHOTO: ST FILE

I am dismayed by the move to impose stiffer penalties on security officers who do not perform professionally, especially those who sleep on the job (Giving security officers peace of mind, despite the penalties; Jan 18).

While it may be justifiable to penalise irresponsible officers who turn up for work drunk, since this is done intentionally, the punishments - possible jail terms and fines - are too harsh for those who doze off.

Wielding the stick will not solve the problem. Instead, the Government should examine the reasons why some officers end up dozing off at work.

These security officers often work long shifts without adequate rest, and are not paid competitive salaries.

Add to that the monotonous nature of their jobs, and it is understandable that some might unintentionally doze off.

These are systemic issues that the Government needs to address first.

What is needed is peer support to stay awake, or sufficient rest time as is the case in other industries.

There is no need to criminalise such behaviour.

Even for the more severe breaches, the Government could instead have created a centralised portal for security agencies to blacklist security officers who have been dismissed for breaches of conduct.

This would be punishment enough, since it would be near impossible for such officers to find another job in the industry.

It seems harsh to single out this one group for punitive measures by the state, giving the impression that security officers were so undisciplined that the Government had to step in to keep them in line.

I urge the Government to rethink this move and explore alternative options. Severe penalties will only deter people from this much-needed job.

Sean Lim Wei Xin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2019, with the headline 'Penalty regime for security officers overly harsh'. Print Edition | Subscribe