Parliamentary Speeches

Committee of Supply Debate 2024 on “Empowering the Home Team for the Future” by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information & Second Minister for Home Affairs

Published: 29 February 2024

1. Mr Chairman,

2. I will update Members on the Home Team’s transformation efforts, and our vision for the future. 

Introduction: Preparing the Home Team for the Future

3. MHA started our Home Team Transformation journey back in 2015. We recognised then, the need for the Home Team to prepare for more challenges ahead.

Progress of Transformation Efforts

4. Let me share an initiative to give Members a sense of our progress and achievements so far.   

Body Worn Camera 2.0

5. The Body Worn Camera (or BWC) has made a meaningful difference to our officers. 

6. Since its introduction in 2016, the cameras have helped our officers focus on doing their jobs well rather than be distracted by malicious allegations. 

(a) Members may recall the incident in 2021 where Police officers were alleged to have bullied an elderly woman. 

(b) The camera footage showed beyond any doubt that this was untrue, and that the officers were, in fact, helping the woman, who suffered from dementia.

7. Since then, we have embarked on BWC 2.0. 

(a) The cameras are now even more compact, with longer battery life and live-streaming capability. 

(b) This improves officers’ situational awareness, and helps them make better-informed decisions to manage incidents.

Vision for the Future

8. In the next phase of the Home Team’s transformation, we will focus our efforts in four areas.

Strengthening Capabilities

9. First, strengthening our operational capabilities, which Mr Patrick Tay and Ms Razwana Begum Abdul Rahim asked about. 

Expansion and Upgrading of PolCam

10. To stay ahead of the changing threat landscape, we need to improve our sense-making capabilities, to detect threats earlier, respond faster and better. Police cameras (or PolCams) are a good example of how we can do that.  

11. PolCam has proven to be very effective in deterring, detecting and solving crime. 

(a) They have helped Police to solve around 7,500 cases. In some incidents, footage, aided by video analytics, have enabled the Police to identify, locate and apprehend the suspects involved within hours of a crime being reported.

(b) Members may recall that physical harassment by unlicensed moneylenders (or UML) was once a major concern. In 2012, there were more than 7,600 reports of such property damage. Last year, there were fewer than 1,200. 

12. By the mid-2030s, SPF and HTX plan to deploy a total of over 200,000 PolCams, more than double what we have today. 

(a) We will progressively replace older cameras.

(b) We will also expand coverage across more locations island-wide.

Patrol Robots

13. SPF and HTX will also deploy autonomous patrol robots to serve as additional eyes on the ground and project Police presence.

(a) These patrol robots will provide live video feeds to the Police’s Operations Command Centres. 

(b) Officers at the Operations Command Centres will also be able to communicate with members of the public remotely through the patrol robots, and provide advice when required. 

Hatch – HTX’s Innovation Centre

14. The Home Team will continue to innovate and co-create with industry partners to further our capability building efforts through HTX’s new innovation centre, known as Hatch.  

(a) Hatch works closely with the Home Team to identify and define key challenges, while simultaneously scouting globally for cutting-edge technologies across diverse sectors. 

(b) Hatch facilitates direct interactions between startups and the Home Team, providing essential funding and enabling the validation of innovative Proof-of-Concept (or POC) projects through real-world testing and expert guidance. 

Transforming Public-Facing Services

15. Mr Chairman, our second focus is on transforming our operations, which Mr Murali Pillai, Mr Patrick Tay, Mr Neil Parekh and Ms Sylvia Lim asked about. We are redesigning our public-facing services so that we can serve Singaporeans more efficiently, and still get good security outcomes. 

Redesigned Police Counters

16. The redesign of Neighbourhood Police Centres (or NPCs) and Neighbourhood Police Posts (or NPPs) supports SPF’s push for digital service delivery to the public. Minister Shanmugam has already explained how they work. They are part of SPF’s efforts to restructure deployments and optimise resources to serve the community better.

New Clearance Concept

17. To better manage the surge in travellers, ICA and HTX will be launching the New Clearance Concept at the immigration checkpoints.

(a) By the middle of the year, 95% of arriving travellers at the airport would be able to clear immigration using automated lanes, compared to just over one-third, pre-COVID.

(b) Contactless clearance will also be introduced, allowing travellers to be identified and cleared via biometrics at the automated lanes, without having to present their passports. All Singapore residents, long-term pass holders, and departing foreign visitors, will be able to enjoy this hassle-free experience and reduced clearance times.

ICA Services Centre, Self-Service Kiosks and Pre-Marriage LTVP Assessment

18. ICA aims to operationalise its new Services Centre in 2025.

(a) Located beside the current ICA Building, the new Centre provides a single touchpoint to meet the public’s multiple immigration needs.  

(b) Documents such as passports can be collected through self-service kiosks during the Centre’s operating hours, without the need to book an appointment. 

(c) These are part of ICA’s efforts to provide the public with a seamless, one-stop “No Fuss, No Visit, No Waiting” experience.  

19. On a separate note, Mr Faisal Manap suggested that ICA creates a streamlined approach to give Singaporeans with foreign spouses more clarity on whether the spouse can qualify for a Long-Term Visit Pass (or LTVP). We understand and empathise with the applicants. 

(a) Since 2015, ICA has offered the Pre-Marriage LTVP Assessment (or PMLA) to all Singaporeans with foreign spouses. This is a free online assessment tool to find out if the prospective non-resident spouse is likely to qualify for a LTVP after marriage. The application takes no more than 30 minutes and will be processed within a month. Applicants who have difficulties going online can also approach the ICA Services Centre or Service SG Centres located island-wide.

(b) From 2021 to 2023, ICA processed an annual average of 4,900 PMLA applications. This is an increase over the previous period, likely because of greater awareness through additional touchpoints, like the ROM or ROMM as the member has suggested. 

Transforming Internal Workflows

20. Mr Tay, Mr Murali and Ms Razwana asked about the Home Team’s efforts to address manpower constraints. This is in fact our third area of focus. We have been streamlining and automating our internal workflows to free up our officers to focus on more important tasks. 

Prison Automated Screening System for Urine Supervision

21. For example, the supervision of urine tests. SPS conducts regular urine tests for both male and female supervisees undergoing Community-based Programmes. 

22. Currently, the process of urine collection is both labour and time intensive. It requires officers to manually register the supervisee, supervise the urine procurement, and conduct drug testing on the sample. 

23. To alleviate the tedium and unpleasantness of this task, SPS has worked with HTX to develop the Prison Automated Screening System (or PASS).

(a) With PASS, a single officer will be able to manage the end-to-end process of urine procurement and testing across multiple cubicles. This will be done in a contactless and fully automated manner, that also provides privacy. 

(b) In addition, PASS will leverage technology to interpret the results of the urine tests. 

Speech-to-Text AI

24. The Home Team has also been exploring the use of speech-to-text AI technology for transcription of video recorded interviews.

(a) The Police is working to streamline the transcription process, and will evaluate its usefulness to investigation officers through a trial to be conducted later this year.

Developing Next-Gen Officers

25. Mr Tay asked about the Home Team’s efforts to develop the next generation of officers. This is our fourth and likely most important area of focus - To train and develop competencies in our officers, to ensure that they are future-ready. 


26. One example is the StressVest that SPF has trialled, which is a laser-based simulation system to hone the skills of Police officers in tactical manoeuvres. 

(a) Such systems provide greater realism as it can simulate a range of scenarios, including armed combat. 

(b) This will better prepare officers to tackle security threats on the ground.

Accuracy and Impact Manikin 

27. Prisons and HTX are currently trialling an Accuracy and Impact Manikin (or AIM) that is able to measure force and zonal impact, and will help to assess the accuracy of strikes and the deployment of force. 

(a) This will enhance the training of our officers in unarmed and defensive tactics, and trainers will be able to monitor the progress of each trainee via a dashboard. 

(b) Prisons and HTX intend to roll out the AIM system by 2026. 

Deepening and Widening Stakeholder Engagements and Partnerships

28. Mr Murali and Ms Razwana asked how technology will be used to improve community policing.  

29. Let me state upfront that the community plays a crucial role in helping the Home Team achieve its mission. The Home Team is therefore keen to deepen and widen our engagement and partnership with the public and other stakeholders. 

30. We will use technology to strengthen our officers’ engagement with the community, rather than to replace or diminish it. 

Community Engagement Robot

31. This can be seen with SPF’s Community Engagement Robot (known affectionately as “CODY”), which will be deployed during community outreach events.

(a) CODY will interact with and disseminate crime prevention messages to the public through a wide range of multimedia interactive activities such as videos, games, quizzes and chats.

(b) CODY will be accompanied by SPF officers, and will enable the officers to reach out to more members of the public. 

myResponder 2.0

32. Another example is SCDF’s myResponder 2.0 app that will be rolled out later this year. 

(a) The app has new features such as a video call function, which enables SCDF’s Operations Centre to initiate live video streaming through the Community First Responders’ mobile phone. 

(b) This will allow the Operations Centre personnel to see what is happening on the ground, and to provide the Responders with live guidance.

(c) This will in turn enable the Responders to provide better and more timely interventions in emergency situations, where every second counts. 


33. Mr Chairman, I would like to conclude with some comments in Mandarin.

34. 过去几年,内政团队在转型方面取得良好进展。面对安全环境中日益严峻的挑战,我们将继续采用科技,加强应对能力, 齐心协力确保转型措施成功落实, 努力维护公众对内政团队的信任。

35. 我们也理解有些公众人士对科技应用感到陌生,甚至不安。 因此,善用科技的同时,内政团队会慎重考虑对公众的影响,采取以人为本的设计, 并在服务人民时保持同理心和人情味。谢谢大家。

36. Thank you, Mr Chairman.