Launch of the Community Watch Scheme - Speech by Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment

Published: 11 December 2021


1.    Good morning, thank you for joining us today. It’s good to be here.

2.    Let me first welcome all of you to the official launch of the Community Watch Scheme or CWS in short. Today marks a significant milestone in our continuous efforts to engender a safe and secure environment through community policing.

Evolution of our Community Policing Efforts through the Formation of Watch Groups

3.    And indeed, community policing is always one of the key thrusts of the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF’s) policing strategy, where the community is actively involved in fighting and combating crime.

4.    The journey first started in 1981 with the formation of the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme. And this scheme encouraged mutual care and help among neighbours. Groups of households known as the Neighbourhood Watch Groups could keep an eye on their neighbours’ premises, alert Police of any suspicious activities, and also share crime prevention messages.

5.    In 1997, the Neighbourhood Watch Groups were reorganised into Neighbourhood Watch Zones, formed under the Resident’s Committee or Neighbourhood Committee of each of the zone.

6.    This later expanded the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme and allowed Police to partner grassroots organisations and volunteers on the ground. For instance, the Police have worked with grassroots leaders, residents and other community partners on crime prevention projects and activities under the Community Safety and Security Programmes.

7.    Over the years, the Neighbourhood Watch Zone scheme has grown from 26 zones to more than 800 zones with almost 4000 volunteers.

8.    The community has also shown strong support for other watch programmes. For instance:

a.    Vehicles on Watch or VOW scheme was launched in 2015. Residents who own in-vehicle cameras can join the group, and provide their dashcam footage to the Police to facilitate investigations. To date, more than 8,000 vehicle owners across more than 900 carparks in Singapore have joined Vehicles on Watch.

b.    Another scheme was the Riders on Watch scheme or ROW which was launched in 2019, as a platform for commuters on public transport to be on the alert and to inform Police of any suspicious persons or activities during their commute. There are now more than 50,000 Riders on Watch who serve as “eyes and ears” on the ground to enhance safety and security for fellow commuters.

Importance of Community Involvement

9.    Indeed, our community is a powerful and important force multiplier. To share an example, in July 2021, a Rider on Watch volunteer and her friend observed a suspicious person on board the train. They approached the Public Transport Security Command officers at Tiong Bahru MRT station and provided a description of the subject, the train he was on, and the cabin number. The subject was subsequently arrested and found to be armed with a dangerous weapon. This is one of the many such examples of the community’s involvement in helping the Police to prevent and to detect crimes.

10.   Over the years, the Police have worked closely with various volunteer groups with the common purpose of keeping Singapore safe and secure. There is much strength in unity as people connect and share interests, knowledge and resources.

Community Watch Scheme – The Next Phase

11.   The Singapore Police Force is introducing today, the Community Watch Scheme or CWS to further strengthen this partnership with the community.

12.   The CWS will integrate various watch groups such as the Neighbourhood Watch Zones, the VOW, and the ROW. It will move from a geographical approach based on zones, to an interest-based strategy.

13.   The CWS will be anchored on five categories: Home, Work/Learning, Transport, Lifestyle, and Cyber. Each category can comprise a number of interest groups. For example, the Transport category will include the Riders on Watch and Vehicles on Watch schemes.

14.   We welcome everyone to participate in the Community Watch Scheme. Anyone can sign up for one or even more of such interest groups.

15.   And by signing up for an interest group, members can look forward to regular updates, including crime-related advisories, as well as opportunities to participate in crime prevention projects, workshops or even training.  

16.   As a CWS member, you can contribute to the safety and security of our community in three ways:

a.    First, you can help to share the information you receive, such as crime advisories, with your friends, neighbours and your family. Police will push out crime alerts to CWS members – for instance, a notification to be on the alert for person of interest. Through timely and effective sharing through the CWS network, the information can be greatly amplified, and the success rate of locating the person of interest will be significantly enhanced.

b.    Second, you can help by staying vigilant, and swiftly alert the Police of any suspicious persons or activities. I think more eyes and ears on the ground will help in detecting and preventing crime.

c.   Third, if you are interested to do more, you can work with the Police through other initiatives and activities under the Community Safety and Security Programme to enhance safety and security of your neighbourhood. You may also sign up for other SPF volunteer schemes, for example the Crime Prevention Ambassadors, Citizens on Patrol, or the Volunteer Special Constabulary, if you are ready to commit more time.

17.   The Police will continue to work with key stakeholders and community partners to promote the CWS, and co-organise activities such as roadshows, workshops and seminars under these schemes.

18.   Key stakeholders in these efforts include the National Crime Prevention Council, People’s Association, Ministry of Manpower, Workplace Safety & Health Council, Land Transport Authority, the Singapore Cycling Federation, Lazada, Carousell, Shopee, Meta, Amazon and Qoo10.

19.   The Police will also continue to grow and expand the CWS by identifying new interest groups to further this network.  

20.   I am heartened to know that we have onboarded approximately 5,000 CWS members under the different interest groups thus far. And we look forward to having more members of the public signing up for CWS, and to work with the Police to safeguard our community. When you sign up as a CWS volunteer, you become a member not only of the Police volunteer community, but also a part of the wider Home Team Volunteer Network, alongside 12,000 other members of this community.


21.   Now, to sum up, our safety and security should not be taken for granted. The CWS recognises the importance of the community in detecting and preventing crime, and furthers the vision of having the community as an enabled Police partner.

22.   Let us pledge our commitment today to stay vigilant at all times, and stand united as a community to ensure a safer home for us all.

23.   Our actions count! Thank you, and have a nice day.