Call for security officers to learn anti-terror skills

Trained personnel can support SGSecure drive by preventing and detecting attacks, says union president

More security officers here should be equipped with counter-terrorism skills to be "additional eyes" on the ground, said Union of Security Employees president Hareenderpal Singh yesterday.

Currently, there are about 41,000 active security officers here, including those who guard public places such as shopping malls, as well as private buildings and offices.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the first counter-terrorism seminar for the security and fire safety industries, Mr Singh said at least half of the active security officers should be trained.

"It is very important for the security industry to come together to support the SGSecure movement as security officers easily outnumber police officers by 3:1 today," he said.

Currently, only about 9,500 of them are trained, with a majority deployed to protected places where such skills are mandatory.

They are trained to identify suspicious activities and persons, as well as respond to bomb threats.

Mr Singh urged all security officers to undergo the training to prevent and detect terror attacks, as they are a "valuable asset" for the various agencies.

The training is offered by Workforce Singapore.

About 300 participants attended yesterday's seminar, held at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability.

The event is among a series of seminars organised by the police and Singapore Civil Defence Force under SGSecure.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee called on participants to keep pace with the changing tactics of terrorists, by putting in place new detection and response procedures.

"Should a terrorist attack happen, many people will look to you for leadership and direction. Your emergency response training and first aid skills will help save lives," he said.

Participants were also updated on the security situation and taught how to enhance the security of their premises.

Mr Benedict Koh, who heads the Fire Safety Managers' Association, told reporters that it is also crucial to beef up arson-prevention plans for buildings here, as starting fires could be a possible way for terrorists to strike.

There are around 2,000 buildings here that are over 5,000 sq m and require a fire safety manager.

"We have to work together with our security colleagues to ensure that we train employees and occupants of a building to be more observant in spotting any suspicious persons or discarded items," Mr Koh said.

"The threat is real... and every fire safety and security agency has to step up."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline 'Call for security officers to learn anti-terror skills'. Print Edition | Subscribe