Security sector urged to move away from focus on manpower

Security Association of Singapore president Raj Joshua Thomas speaking at the Security Industry Annual Gala at the Resorts World Convention Centre on Nov 30, 2018.
Security Association of Singapore president Raj Joshua Thomas speaking at the Security Industry Annual Gala at the Resorts World Convention Centre on Nov 30, 2018.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Contracts should be more outcome-based as labour costs go up, says top industry official

More security guards does not mean better security. Instead companies should base their security contracts on outcomes which provide more productive and effective solutions that integrate manpower and technology.

This was the key message yesterday from the security industry, which will propose ways for related government agencies to give a "big push" to change client behaviour.

Speaking at the Security Industry Annual Gala at the Resorts World Convention Centre, Security Association of Singapore (SAS) president Raj Joshua Thomas said: "This is an urgent measure we must take, to deal with the most pressing issue in the security industry in the years ahead."

He said it was important that buyers realised the "reality of cost increases" as manpower costs are set to rise though annual increments in the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) starting from next year.

He added that while the Security Industry Council - made up of the SAS, the Association of Certified Security Agencies and the Union of Security Employees - has rolled out a guide and seminars to help companies structure contracts based on outcomes instead of manpower, it needs the Government on board to "really move buyers".

"What I am saying is that it is imperative that industry, Government and the union join hands to bring the reality of cost increases and other developments in the industry to buyers in a big way," he said.

While the Home Team has strengthened its own capabilities to deal with the increasing threat of terrorism, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam stressed at the event that security officers play a key role as they are often the first line of defence.

 
 

"They will be able to spot if something is not right, if they are well trained. They will be able to offer help, if they are well trained. They will be able to manage the public after the attack, if they are well trained. They can respond to any incident," he said.

To ensure security officers are well trained, the Government has come up with courses to teach them to tackle terror threats.

The Security Industry Transformation Map launched in February will also help develop a modern and technologically advanced sector to achieve better security outcomes, he added.

He also reiterated the Government's commitment to adopt outcome-based security contracts. It was previously reported that the target is for most government agencies to adopt such contracts by 2020.

Said Mr Shanmugam: "On the supply side, we can make good changes. We can also make good changes on the demand side, with the help of integration of technology, new processes in the security industry. Because if we insist on outcome-based security contracts, that changes the way security services are purchased. And together, we can break the assumption that more manpower equals better security. It doesn't."

In his speech which gave an overview of the industry, Mr Thomas also brought attention to the decrease in security prices, which he described as an "alarming trend".

"(This) puts into stark question whether these agencies that are bidding lower instead of higher will be able to pay their officers at the increased PWM rates in the future."

He said these "unfair contractual terms" would affect the ability of agencies to keep up with the impending rise in costs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2018, with the headline 'Security sector urged to move away from focus on manpower'. Print Edition | Subscribe