Need for change in mindset and methods of private security industry, says Chan Chun Sing

SINGAPORE - Many facilities are not "designed for security," which is often treated as an afterthought and a cost component to be minimised and managed downstream, said labour chief Chan Chun Sing on Sunday (Jan 31).

Down the road, this raises the cost of providing security for such facilities.

This is one of several issues that Mr Chan raised about the "often neglected" private security industry, including the mindset and methods of stakeholders.

Unless these issues are tackled, there is only so much that can be done to improve the pay, image and professionalism of the security industry, Mr Chan said.

To illustrate the earlier point, he raised the example of many facilities having "too many poorly designed access points inadequately monitored and secured".

This makes patrolling operations a manpower-intensive operation.

Other issues are a lack of "aggregation" or outcome-based approach towards security services, he wrote.

Many still rely on multiple short-term contracts focused on manpower input, he said, rather than a longer-term one that can "incentivise innovation, manpower savings and better outcomes as deliverables."

Adjacent facilities tend to hire separate security forces instead of pooling resources to save costs and manpower as well.

Beyond that, with better methods and a clearer mindset, he said, there needs to be better training of security personnel and more investment in a quality system.

"Instead of training our security personnel to just watch a screen and respond to situations, we must also train them to analyse patterns, detect anomalies and spot irregularities as preventive measures," said Mr Chan, adding that instead of competing on price, industry players should compete more on quality and innovation instead.

Paying more attention to design and operations "will determine the jobs and wages of our security personnel for a long time to come," he said.