46 nabbed at Changi for lying about identities

Ms Zuraidah (seen here with ICA officers) feels that in times of heightened alert, security has to take precedence over the airport's reputation for efficiency. She hopes travellers will understand and cooperate.
Ms Zuraidah (seen here with ICA officers) feels that in times of heightened alert, security has to take precedence over the airport's reputation for efficiency. She hopes travellers will understand and cooperate. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

In January and February, 46 people were nabbed at Changi Airport for lying about their identities.

Revealing the number for the first time, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) told The Sunday Times that officers were able to catch the culprits with the introduction of BioScreen in April last year.

The biometric identification system scans the fingerprints of arriving and departing travellers and verifies them against ICA's records.

As an example, a traveller who has entered Singapore before under a certain name or passport, and tries to come in again using a different identity will be caught because his fingerprint does not match the details already in ICA's records.

Leveraging technology, including biometrics, is a key part of ICA's strategy to provide secure and timely clearance of travellers, a spokesman said.

SAFETY FIRST AT CHANGI

Security is our key focus as passenger and cargo volumes continue to grow at Changi Airport and the threat to aviation becomes graver and more menacing. I always tell my officers, 'You do your job and if the queues build up, I will deal with it.' Of course, we also recognise that Changi is known for its efficiency, so we work closely with the airport operator, deploying better technology to facilitate faster and at the same time, more accurate clearance. But during times of heightened alert, travellers should expect longer queues and we ask and hope that the public can manage their expectations and work with us, for example, by ensuring that all their documents are ready when they approach the immigration counters.

SENIOR ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF POLICE ZURAIDAH ABDULLAH, domain commander of Integrated Checkpoints Command (Air) at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

This and the need to manage manpower constraints has also led a push for more automated immigration lanes.

There are 80 across all three terminals at Changi Airport.

Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SAC) Zuraidah Abdullah, currently attached to ICA as domain commander, Integrated Checkpoints Command (Air), said: "Our operating environment is getting more complex.

"The threat is really very grave and very menacing."

This coupled with manpower constraints, "poses a lot of challenges for us", she said.

Last year, more than 17 million travellers used the automated lanes, a 70 per cent jump from the number in 2012.

It is also encouraging to see members of the public and airport workers do their part, SAC Zuraidah said.

Every day, they report up to 15 cases of unattended bags.

So far, none has turned out to be a serious threat.

Public awareness is key to reminding everyone that security is ultimately a collective responsibility, which requires the combined effort of all, SAC Zuraidah said.

She added that this is the message behind SG Secure - the national initiative launched a year ago to step up vigilance, speed up security response and involve the community in the fight against terror.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 12, 2017, with the headline '46 nabbed at Changi for lying about identities'. Print Edition | Subscribe