Home Team revamp by 2025 to tackle new challenges: Shanmugam

The three Singapore Police Force Scholarship recipients who received their awards yesterday (from left): Mr Lua Jiong Wei, Mr Kagen Lim and Mr Justin Tan.
The three Singapore Police Force Scholarship recipients who received their awards yesterday (from left): Mr Lua Jiong Wei, Mr Kagen Lim and Mr Justin Tan.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Seeing police arrive to resolve a fight between secondary school students at the void deck of his Yishun block of flats as a child gave Mr Kagen Lim a renewed appreciation of his country's safety.

"I was terrified... I never knew that could happen in Singapore," recalled Mr Lim, now 19. "My mum called the police and took me aside. That moment when the police arrived was a very reassuring moment for me."

As one of three Singapore Police Force (SPF) Scholarship recipients to receive their awards yesterday, he will soon join their ranks. Mr Lua Jiong Wei and Mr Justin Tan, both 19, also received the scholarship.

During the ceremony, the Ministry of Home Affairs also gave out 21 other scholarships, including the Singapore Government Scholarship and Local Merit Scholarship.

Key to the Home Team's transformation plan to deal with challenges from an evolving society is recruiting and retaining officers with "the right skills, attitude and values", said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.

He spoke at the award ceremony held at the Istana yesterday, highlighting trends that will increase the demands on officers.

Besides an increasing threat of terrorism, Singapore is dealing with an evolving drug environment and rise in cybercrime.

There are also challenges from being one of the fastest-ageing societies and "a major transport hub with 200 million people going through our checkpoints every year", he said.

To deal with these issues, the Home Team will become more data-driven by 2025. It will use different sources, such as sensor systems from closed circuit television, live feeds and police cameras, to reduce the time needed to understand an incident.

Officers will also be more connected to their colleagues and the public, crowdsourcing from mobile apps. Technology and data will help to anticipate factors that contribute to offending and other issues as well, he said.

"To do all of this, you will need strong, effective... leadership," added Mr Shanmugam.

The SPF Scholarship recipients told reporters they were inspired to join the police to work with communities and safeguard their security.

Mr Lua, a fan of television series CrimeWatch as a child, took an interest in the force after police attachments, including a three-day stint with the Bedok police division.

He recalls joining officers on their patrols to Geylang: "You see how the officers have to interface with different kinds of vice activities... You need to be very sensitive to what's happening on the ground."

But above all, he, too, is driven by the wish to maintain security here, which enables things like economic growth to take place. "That's a purpose I identify with," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2016, with the headline 'Home Team revamp by 2025 to tackle new challenges: Shanmugam'. Print Edition | Subscribe