Published: 26 February 2021
Ms Raeesah Khan: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what are the principles, guidelines and considerations to ensure that law enforcement officers use appropriate and proportionate force; (b) what are the principles, guidelines, considerations and training on de-escalation provided to law enforcement officers; (c) what are the regular mechanisms for review for policies regarding the above and how often do they take place; and (d) whether there can be regular public reporting to Parliament on aggregated and anonymised data on police use of force.
Ms Raeesah Khan: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether there are any public education efforts on the common guidelines and procedures for law enforcement officers to capture suspects in public, including the appropriate amount of force that is to be used; and (b) what recourse and remedies are available should the public witness or experience law enforcement officers acting in ways that are not in line with stated guidelines or common procedure.
1. Law enforcement officers are empowered to use force in the discharge of their duties. These will include situations which require protecting and saving lives, preventing the commission of an offence, and arresting suspects who have committed offences.
2. Some suspects may be compliant with verbal commands by the law enforcement officers. Others may resist arrest with different degrees of violence. In such situations, the use of force may be necessary to prevent the suspect from hurting themselves or others, including the officers. Indeed, law enforcement officers put their own safety and lives on the line every time they intervene to prevent the commission of an offence, or to protect members of the public. We should give them the respect and thanks they deserve.
3. Law enforcement officers have to evaluate the threat posed and decide on the most appropriate course of action, including the force that is needed, and the safety of all who are involved, or around. This has to be done in real time, sometimes in the blink of an eye, and without the benefit of detailed and thorough analysis of the circumstances, backed up by viewing of camera footages and other information, that an ex-post analysis would allow.
4. The policy on the use of force is reviewed as necessary.
5. If members of the public feel that the force used by law enforcement officers may be disproportionate to the situation, they can provide feedback to the Ministry of Home Affairs or lodge a Police report. The Ministry will investigate these complaints. If the complaints are substantiated, action will be taken against errant officers, including criminal proceedings, if a criminal offence is disclosed.
6. We invite the MP to explain the rationale for reporting of aggregated and anonymised data on Police’s use of force to Parliament. We will consider the suggestion, in the light of the reasons given. It takes time and effort to collate and provide such data, and the Singapore Police Force is already working with limited manpower – as we have explained several times.
7. In short, the Ministry is of the view that the public knows that Police act lawfully. And those who feel that Police have acted unlawfully have been able to obtain and have obtained recourse.