Press Releases

Amendments to the Police Force Act

Published: 05 July 2021

1.   The Police Force (Amendment) Bill was introduced for First Reading in Parliament today. The Bill proposes amendments to the Police Force Act (“PFA”) to: (a) enhance the Singapore Police Force’s (“SPF”) operational capabilities and readiness; (b) strengthen  SPF’s disciplinary, administrative and human resources processes; and (c) strengthen controls over Auxiliary Police Forces (“APFs”). The amendments will enable SPF to continue to keep Singapore safe and secure in an increasingly complex operating environment.

Key Amendments

Enhancing SPF’s Operational Capabilities and Readiness

2.   To enhance SPF’s operational capabilities and readiness, MHA is tabling the following amendments to the PFA:

  1. Increase penalties for motorists who evade roadblocks, and cover more modes of roadblock evasion apart from physical dash-through, to ensure that deterrence against such offences remains effective.

  2. Make explicit Police Officers’ existing powers to erect barriers and cordons to control human traffic, and make it an offence for persons to fail to comply with a Police Officer’s instructions not to cross such barriers and cordons.

  3. Equip officers with necessary powers and protections, as follows:

    i.   Provide Police Officers with the power to enter any place in case of medical emergency, to protect persons from injury or death;

    ii.   Provide Special Police Officers (“SPOs”) with the same powers conferred on regular Police Officers.[1] Currently, SPOs only have powers of investigation, and do not have other powers to allow them to take proactive action to protect public safety[2];

    iii.   Provide Commercial Affairs Officers (“CAOs”) in SPF, who investigate commercial and financial crimes, with more powers required in the course of their duties, such as the power to arrest persons who possess stolen items. Currently, CAOs only have powers of investigation;

    iv.   Make explicit the protection for Police Officers, SPOs, CAOs, Intelligence Officers and Forensic Specialists from liability for acts and omissions done in “good faith and with reasonable care”, in the execution of the PFA or any other written law. Currently, these officers can already rely on the defence of necessity under common law. This amendment codifies this existing protection, so that the officers can carry out their lawful duties with greater assurance. Nevertheless, officers may be taken to task and face disciplinary action or charged for criminal offences if they are found to have acted inappropriately; and

          v.   Empower the Commissioner of Police (“CP”) to delegate CP and Deputy Commissioner (“DCP”)’s powers to civilian officers in leadership positions, within SPF. Currently, the CP may only delegate his and DCP’s powers to Police Officers in leadership positions within SPF.

  4. Provide SPF with the lever to retain the services of Police Officers in times of crisis.[3]

Strengthening SPF’s Disciplinary, Administrative and Human Resources Processes

3.   SPF officers are expected to uphold the highest standards of integrity and professionalism. In line with this, MHA is tabling amendments to increase fines for Police Officers and SPOs who commit disciplinary offences. The amendments will also allow SPF to require Operationally Ready NSmen to report for disciplinary proceedings without compensating for the NSmen’s loss of civilian remuneration, since the proceedings arose due to their own wrongful acts in the first place. This is similar to provisions for SCDF and SAF NSmen, that currently exist in the Civil Defence Act and the Singapore Armed Forces Act respectively.

4.   MHA is also tabling the following amendments to streamline administrative and human resources processes in SPF:

  1. Processes to automatically discharge full-time NSmen from the Special Constabulary, such as when they transfer to other services (e.g. SAF or SCDF), or are medically downgraded;

  2. For the Minister for Home Affairs and CP to respectively be the promotion authorities for SPOs ranked Superintendent and above, and Deputy Superintendent and below, aligned with the promotion authorities for SCDF;

  3. Allow SPOs and civilian officers employed by SPF to join Police associations alongside Police Officers, as an avenue to advance their welfare; and

  4. Empower CP to prescribe a list of items to be returned when officers leave the SPF, instead of requiring officers to return all items issued by SPF.[4]

Strengthening Controls over APFs

5.   APFs provide essential security services. At present, there are existing controls in the PFA to ensure that only trusted agents operate APFs, and that APFs remain within Singapore’s control. MHA will table amendments to strengthen the controls over APFs:

  1. Additional reporting/approval requirements for controllers of APFs;

  2. Enhance powers to issue directions and impose conditions, to ensure essential security services are not disrupted; and

  3. Update penalties to strengthen deterrence against attempts to disrupt the delivery of essential security services by APFs.       

[1] SPOs refer to: (i) Full-Time National Servicemen (NSmen); (ii) Operationally Ready NSmen; (iii) Volunteer Ex-NSmen; and (iv) Volunteer Special Constabulary Officers.

[2] Examples of duties which require such powers include setting up roadblocks, performing crowd dispersal and assisting in cases of attempted suicide.

[3] A crisis is to be defined as when either of the following is in force: (i) a state of emergency as proclaimed by the President; or (ii) an activation order in response to terrorist incidents, acts of serious violence, and acts causing large-scale public disorder, as made by the Minister for Home Affairs under the Public Order and Safety (Special Powers) Act.

[4] The intent is for officers to return controlled items such as firearms holster and handcuffs, and items that can be used to impersonate Police Officers (e.g. identity vest). Non-controlled items such as Police-issued socks need not be returned.