Published: 29 January 2015
The Police Force (Amendment) Bill 2015 was introduced for First Reading in Parliament today.
2. The Police Force Act (PFA) is the main legislative instrument that provides for the powers, organisation and disciplinary procedures of the Singapore Police Force (SPF). It was last amended in 2004 to introduce a comprehensive regulatory framework for the auxiliary police forces. The current Bill seeks to strengthen the operational effectiveness of the SPF, prevent abuse of Police items, raise penalties for the evasion of road blocks and streamline internal processes.
Proposed Amendments to the PFA
3. The key proposed amendments are summarised below:
a. Enhance operational effectiveness of the Police
First, civilian officers, such as forensic specialists and community wardens, will be given powers to assist police officers or law enforcement officers in the discharge of their functions. Forensic specialists, in support of criminal investigations, will be given powers to secure and search a crime scene and seize evidence. Community wardens may be deployed to assist the Police to respond to noise cases.
Second, the amendments will allow Police NSmen to voluntarily serve beyond the present statutory age. Currently, Operationally Ready Police NSmen are unable to continue serving once they reach the statutory age. The amendment will allow them to continue serving in key command and staff appointments where their knowledge and experience will be valuable.
Third, the amendments clarify the powers of APOs to detain or arrest offenders under certain conditions, subject to authorisation and directions issued by the Commissioner of Police. This will clarify the powers of Auxiliary Police Officers (APOs) when they assist the Police in maintaining law and order.
b. Prevent abuse of police logos, insignias and uniforms
Greater protection is needed for SPF official logos, insignia and uniforms, to reflect the seriousness of anyone attempting to falsely present himself as being from the Police, given the powers, such as those of search and arrest, vested with the Police.
The amendments to the PFA will criminalise the (i) unauthorised use of items bearing SPF logos and insignias for the purpose of creating a false impression of an association with the SPF; and (ii) unauthorised distribution and sale of SPF insignia, uniforms, and items bearing SPF logos. The unauthorised use of SPF logos and insignias would be punishable by a fine not exceeding $2,500 and/or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months. The unauthorised distribution and sale of SPF insignia, uniforms and items bearing SPF logos would be punishable by a fine not exceeding $10,000 and/or imprisonment not exceeding 3 years.
c. Raise penalty for evasion of road blocks
The evasion of Police road blocks endangers the lives and safety of other road users. These are typically committed by persons who seek to avoid being arrested for offences such as drink driving which carry more severe penalties than the current penalties for evading a road block. The penalties would be raised from a fine not exceeding $1,000 and/or imprisonment up to 6 months to a fine not exceeding $5,000 and/or imprisonment not exceeding 1 year.
d. Strengthen disciplinary processes for police officers
These amendments align the disciplinary processes for junior police officers with the Public Service (Disciplinary Proceedings) Regulations for civil servants. The disciplinary framework for Police National Servicemen will be aligned with that of the SAF and SCDF.