On Assignment
A Prison Under Lockdown: Putting Officers to the Test
At the Asian Prisons Lockdown Challenge 2018, correctional officers from across the region battled it out in a show of mental and physical fortitude.

Sprinting up a gentle, 100-metre slope doesn’t really seem that hard… unless you’re carrying firearms, wearing a gas mask or lugging multiple training dummies to safety. That’s exactly what participants of the Asian Prisons Lockdown Challenge (APLC) went through as part of Operation Man-Down, one of four components of the biennial competition which puts the tactical skills of correctional officers to the test.

In the thick of all the action was Rehabilitation Officer (RO1) Kelvin Ang of the Singapore Prison Service (SPS). A three-time APLC participant and a former Singapore Prisons Emergency Action Response (SPEAR) Force trainer, he took a break from the Challenge in 2014 and 2016 before coming back in full force this year alongside his SPS teammates.

Participants (in yellow) dashing up to the “affected area” to rescue casualties. They wore respirators, helmets and tactical boots while carrying firearms to mimic real operations. PHOTO: Tan Ming Hui

“It’s totally exhausting,” admitted RO1 Ang. “The load itself is bearable, but if you’re not used to the respirator, it may cause you to become exhausted faster, because your breathing and sight are hindered.”

Honing Emergency Response Skills 

RO1 Ang’s work involves supporting inmates as they go through counselling and take part in various rehabilitation programmes. 
RO1 Ang has been a Prisons and SPEAR trainer for 15 years. PHOTO: Tan Ming Hui

Correctional officers have to be observant and aware of inmate behaviour, and taking part in events like the APLC allow him to hone his emergency response skills.

“We’re working with people. Sometimes they act out and things don’t go as planned,” he said. “That itself keeps us on our toes – we have to be vigilant, firm and stay updated with the skills to better manage our inmates.”

SPS participants during Operation Man-Down. PHOTOS: Tan Ming Hui

That’s where the APLC comes in. By bringing together correctional officers from across the region, it serves as an important platform for exchanges with fellow professionals.

“Being exposed to different methodologies and ways of thinking helps us to learn, and also reminds us that we need to stay vigilant and prepared in ensuring Singapore’s safety and security,” said RO1 Ang. “It’s also great fun meeting old friends and making new ones.”

Making Her Mark at the APLC

At this year’s APLC, the SPS hosted more than 57 participants from 10 countries: Bangladesh, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kiribati, Macau, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand — the biggest pool of international attendees to date.

Taking part for the first time was Assistant Officer II (AOII) Kwan Hiu Ping, who represented the Hong Kong Correctional Services Department – she’s the only female competitor from Hong Kong, and the second female participant the Challenge has ever seen.
To prepare for the APLC, AOII Kwan wore a gas mask during her regular runs and used heavy weights to simulate the load she’d have to carry for the Challenge. PHOTO: Tan Ming Hui

AOII Kwan’s work involves overseeing the welfare of female inmates and managing high-security risk situations, among other responsibilities. Participating in the APLC not only gave her the opportunity to sharpen her skills, it also strengthened the camaraderie within her team.

“We were able to interact with organisations from other countries and learn about how they operate,” she said. “In this competition, it’s really not about winning or losing, but showing our team spirit.”

The team from Hong Kong during the APLC component called Search and Rescue. Participants had to search for casualties in a barricaded environment while responding to antagonists. PHOTO: Tan Ming Hui

About the Asian Prisons Lockdown Challenge 2018
Organised biennially by the SPS, the APLC brings together correctional agencies across Asia to exchange correctional knowledge and best practices, enhance tactical capabilities and benchmark themselves among their regional counterparts. This is done through a series of exhibitions, workshops and talks. Now in its fifth edition, the APLC was held at Changi Prison Complex from 8 to 10 May 2018.
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Muhamad Khair
  2. 17 May 2018
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