Parliament

Security officers to get greater protection from abuse

Proposed laws set out new offences, stiffer penalties for those who harass such workers

Security officers would get more protection under proposed laws introduced in Parliament yesterday to set out new offences and stiffer penalties for those who harass, abuse or harm officers carrying out their duties.

The Private Security Industry (Amendment) Bill will amend the Private Security Industry Act (PSIA) to address the common types of harassment and abuse faced by security officers. The penalties for such offences will be higher than if they were committed against members of the public.

In a statement, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said security officers face a higher risk of confrontation with people due to the public-facing nature of their work.

About 40 per cent of security officers had faced some form of abuse while working, according to a survey last year by the Union of Security Employees and the Singapore University of Social Sciences.

MHA said it will broaden the scope of the PSIA to provide "targeted protection" for security officers and "send a clear, deterrent signal against abuse and harassment of security officers".

Under the current Protection from Harassment Act, intentional harassment carries a maximum fine of $5,000 and a jail term of up to six months.

If the amended PSIA is passed, those who harass security officers may be fined up to $5,000 and jailed for up to a year.

Under the Penal Code, assault or using criminal force carries a fine of up to $1,500 and a jail term of up to three months.

The proposed changes to PSIA will raise penalties for the same acts committed against security officers to a maximum fine of $7,500 and up to two years' jail.

Under the Penal Code, voluntarily causing hurt carries a fine of up to $5,000 and a jail term of up to three years. Such offences committed against security officers will carry a maximum fine of $10,000 and five years' jail under the new laws.

The second set of proposed changes to the PSIA come amid a shift towards an industry-led accreditation of security consultants, and will put greater onus on the industry to maintain standards.

Currently, those who provide security consultancy services need to be licensed as they come under the PSIA's definition of security service providers.

But in January last year, the Security Consultants Accreditation Programme was launched by the Association of Certified Security Agencies and Security Association Singapore, requiring those who wish to be accredited to renew their accreditation status annually to ensure their expertise is up to date. Seventeen security consultants have been successfully accredited under the programme, said MHA, urging more consultants to follow suit.

The proposed changes to the PSIA will remove licensing requirements for security consultants, and leave this process to the industry's own accreditation programme.

MHA said the risk of such consultants abusing their position to commit security-related offences is low, as they do not supply the actual security systems or have access to premises for the installation and maintenance of security systems.

But they can still be taken to task under other laws should they abuse or disclose sensitive information obtained in their course of work.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2021, with the headline 'Security officers to get greater protection from abuse'. Subscribe