Published: 28 November 2022
Dr Tan Wu Meng: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs what regulatory requirements and policy measures are in place to prevent risks arising from crowd surges during festive periods and at public events.
Mr Lim Biow Chuan: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether there are adequate crowd control measures whenever there are large-scale events involving large numbers of members of the public so as to avoid crowd crushes or stampedes.
Mr Gan Thiam Poh: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what lessons are learnt from the recent stampede incidents in several countries; (b) whether further enhancements to our crowd control measures by the relevant agencies will be needed; and (c) if needed, what are these.
Mr Murali Pillai: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs what strategies are put in place to proactively manage crowds at large scale public and private events and ensure that they do not develop into crowd pushing, crushing and collapses.
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether the Ministry has identified a list of locations or events in Singapore at risk of crowd surge and stampede situations; (b) what are some of these locations or events; and (c) what are the enhanced safety steps that organisers at these locations or events are required to put in place.
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether SPF proactively informs the public of crowd surge risks and ways to stay safe when participating in large public events; and (b) whether tear gas will ever be used in crowded, confined spaces for the purpose of crowd control.
Miss Rachel Ong: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether Singapore has an occupant load limit for large assembly points; and (b) how is this limit monitored during events with large crowds.
Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Social and Family Development:
1. Mr Speaker, Sir, may I have your permission to answer together, Parliamentary Questions 9 to 15 in today’s order paper?
2. The Singapore Police Force (SPF) works with the relevant stakeholders to put in place measures to mitigate the risks associated with large crowds.
3. Under the Public Order Act, event organisers, otherwise known as EOs, are required to notify the Police of public events expected to attract crowds of 5,000 persons or more, or private events expected to attract crowds of 10,000 persons or more. The Police will then engage these EOs on the appropriate measures to be deployed for public safety.
4. The Police also work closely with EOs and other stakeholders on crowd management plans for major events such as the National Day Parade (NDP), Christmas festivities at Orchard Road, New Year countdowns, and the Formula One Night Race. These plans may include measures such as the monitoring of crowd size, the deployment of security personnel, and the regulation of crowd control at congregation areas and potential chokepoints. They may also include cordoning of areas with public safety risk such as narrow pathways and bridges, and signages to guide the public on diversions and closures of thoroughfares.
5. The Police are deployed on the ground at these major events to ensure law and order, as well as to provide swift responses to incidents. Contingency plans are also put in place. These may involve catering for emergency lanes to facilitate emergency responses within crowded areas, and closing off high risk areas pre-emptively before they become overcrowded.
6. As for indoor venues, occupant limits are regulated by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) under the Fire Code and Fire Safety Manager Regulations. Under the Fire Code, functional spaces within a building are assigned an occupant load factor which determines the maximum number of people allowed at any point of time, and there must also be sufficient egress capacity. In general, the Fire Code requires every storey of a building to have at least two independent exit staircases to ensure timely evacuation. Higher risk premises such as those with an occupant load of 1,000 persons or more; floor area of 5,000 sqm or more; or 9 storeys or more, including basement levels, require a fire safety manager to be appointed.
7. The Police conduct frequent patrols when there are large crowds at locations like Little India and Chinatown, and also deploy various sensors such as CCTVs and drones to monitor the ground situation. They may be augmented by Auxiliary Police Officers.
8. Members of the public may call 999 to alert the Police if there are safety concerns related to overcrowding.
9. If the Police assess that there are disturbances to the mood of a crowd, the Police may seek to remove the source of the agitation. The Police may also provide adequate space for crowd dispersal or provide clear instructions on how the crowd may exit the congested area. To do so, Police officers may use voice amplification devices, such as loudhailers, to gain the attention of the crowd.
10. To increase public awareness, the Police publicise safety measures pre-, during-, and post-event. The Police may also pre-empt the public on potential crowding, and alert the public to avoid areas or events which are already crowded. For example, at NDP 2022, the Crowd@MarinaBay website provided live updates of the crowd situation at hotspots for fireworks viewing in the Marina Bay area. Members of the public can help keep each other safe by informing one another of ground developments.
11. The Police regularly analyse major incidents which occur around the world, to improve their crowd management measures. They also regularly review their regulatory and policy levers, as well as operational plans. It is equally important that organisers and stakeholders act responsibly, including to adopt sufficient safety measures, and to work with the authorities to keep events and the public safe.