The amendments to the Private Security Industry Act are a step in the right direction in terms of changing mindsets - that security officers being abused is part and parcel of the job (Law amended to make harassing, abusing security officers an offence, Oct 6).
While the types of offences have been expanded under the Act, there should be concurrent efforts on preventive measures to avoid cases of abuse and harassment.
As correctly pointed out by Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim, soft-skills training to handle difficult people is equally necessary. However, the mandatory Workforce Skills Qualification modules needed for a security officer licence does not include this, and is made mandatory only for those advancing to a senior security officer position.
The baseline competency training for licensing may need to be reviewed if security officers are expected to de-escalate difficult situations.
In tandem, public awareness efforts should be stepped up.
For a start, posters warning people against abusing and harassing security officers can be made available for employers to display at places like security posts and counters.
It may also be worthwhile to consider implementing the use of body-worn cameras as an industry standard for certain roles. The cameras can deter abusive behaviour and also check the officer's own professional conduct, and would reduce abuse and harassment cases.
The use of such devices needs to be within the legal governance of data collection, storage, management and protection.
Such collective measures will raise the standard, image and value of security officers and the industry as a whole.
Soh Wee Sian