SPF Workplan Seminar 2016 - Speech by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 29 April 2016

Commissioner of Police

Colleagues from the Singapore Police Force

Partners and Friends




The Police Force did outstandingly well last year, amidst the high tempo of operations. We have spoken about this before.


2.    Our Law and Order situation remains exceptional. The Gallup Global Law and Order Report 2015 ranked Singapore first amongst 141 countries in how people feel in their sense of personal safety and their confidence in the Police Force. I think that speaks for itself. Most of us know how we feel when we walk around. That is something that is exceptional, it is a true privilege to be a Singaporean and the Police Force is an essential component in achieving that, and it has done well. Thank you.




3.     However, even as we say this, we face new challenges. Top of the list of these challenges, and we have spoken about this before, is terrorism. It has become a real and present danger. This week, we received news on the beheading of a Canadian national by Abu Sayyaf militants in Southern Philippines, and it is a stark reminder to all of us on the threat that ISIS poses. 

4.     Second, the nature of the crimes, by reason of technology and geography, has become more challenging to deal with. One of these examples is of course cyber-crime. There has been a significant increase in such crimes. The perpetrators are based overseas in jurisdictions where it is not easy to get to them. The volume and complexity of such crimes will grow. 

5.     Third, I think public expectations and the demands on the Police Force have been growing and will continue to grow.


6.     Fourth, our manpower situation will continue to be challenging. A greying population means less young people will come into the workforce, less young people to recruit into the Police Force. Manpower constraints are there across the economy and across the Public Service. There will be limits to the number of officers we can recruit. At the same time, because of experience, and because of much healthier lifestyles, people have much longer runways as well, so that has given us some scope

7.     These challenges will be with us for the next 10 to 15 years, and in fact they will become more serious in 10 to 15 years' time but we cannot wait until then. We have to deal with those issues now, decisively and firmly.




8.     I will touch on three specific areas of our response: First, our efforts in counter-terrorism. Second, our transformation efforts as a Home Team. Third, our commitment to develop and support our people, because without them, everything else is a pipe dream.


9.     First, on counter-terrorism. I have spoken on this a number of times. We need a comprehensive approach to address the threat of terrorism in three aspects. First, we will enhance our ability to respond to security threats. Second, we will improve our vigilance to protect buildings. Third, as a community, we have to come together to fight terrorism in a new national movement, which we term SG Secure.


10.     The first pillar of our CT strategy is hardening our security response. We will build up SPF's security response capabilities by forming Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) and enhance the ability of our second wave of responders. 

11.     ERTs will be formed and they will have to respond faster, more effectively and decisively to attacks. They will have more firepower and be given training to achieve this. They will get to the scene as quickly as possible to contain the situation and minimise casualties as far as possible. They will be specially trained with counter-assault skills and have the right weapons. Importantly, the ERTs will be present on the ground where they will go on daily patrol on the streets. They will link up with stakeholders in the areas they are deployed and are expected to become familiar with the areas they are in charge of. That, and the presence and deployment of our ERTs, will significantly enhance our ability to respond. Beyond the ERTs are our Police land division officers who will also form part of the first wave of response. Together, they will seek to be the first on the scene.


12.     The second wave of response will come from the Special Operations Command (SOC). The SOC will be strengthened significantly and by July 2017, 300 officers will have been added. They will be trained and mainly deployed to form Rapid Deployment Troops (RDTs), and some of them will supplement our existing Police Tactical Troops (PTTs). The RDTs will be rightly equipped. They will have Tactical Strike Vehicles and Tactical Vehicles. They will also be equipped with Tactical Response Motorcycles. This will give them a significant ability to cut through congested traffic and get to the incident sites quickly.


13.     For all operations within Singapore, the Police will take command. Depending on the nature and scale of the attack, the Home Team may rely on other agencies who will provide support to us. These agencies could include, depending on the nature and scale of the incident, the SAF, MCI and MOH. For example, if there is a large scale attack, and if Police need additional forces beyond the ERTs and the SOC, SPF may call upon the SAF for specialised forces such as the Special Operations Task Force. They will support and reinforce the ERTs and the SOC.


14.     The SAF will bring its own assets and equipment to assist the SPF in counter terrorism operations as may be necessary. When the threat situation is heightened and we have to be on high alert, the Home Team may also be supported by the SAF in conducting joint deterrence patrols and other security operations in specific areas. These include critical installations like our checkpoints and public transport nodes, commercial areas, and residential heartlands where there is high human traffic.


15.     The Police are actively developing operational plans on working together seamlessly with other agencies, including the SAF. Exercises will be conducted to make sure these plans are sharpened. Such exercises with our partner agencies are necessary for all of us to understand how we can operate together with the SPF in command and control. That is our first pillar, our security response. 

16.     The second pillar is security protection and vigilance.  We will enhance protective security measures for buildings and premises and significantly expand CCTV coverage. This will project deterrence, enable better sense-making and improve our situational awareness. We will look at and as necessary have the legal framework to require premises owners and organisers of major events to put in place security measures that we deem necessary. 

17.     Our camera network will be a key part of our strategy.  As part of PolCam 1.0, SPF has almost completed the installation of Police cameras at all 10,000 HDB blocks and Multi-Storey Carparks. That has helped the Police solve crimes and has given greater confidence to the public, that there is greater security and it has received good public support.

18.     SPF, under PolCam 2.0, will roll out more cameras in public places. These will be installed at HDB heartlands, in town centres, neighbourhood centres, hawker centres and in key pedestrian linkways leading to major MRT stations and bus interchanges. They will significantly increase our capability to fight terror and fight crime. 

19.     We will start installing cameras under PolCam 2.0 from the second half of this year, starting with Jurong Gateway, Bedok Town Centre and Ang Mo Kio Town Centre.


20.     The Police will also work with commercial entities to adopt the Video Surveillance Standards. Footage from these commercial premises can be obtained by Police for investigation and incident management.

21.     The third pillar of our counter-terrorism strategy is how the community can come together to respond. This cannot be done by the Police or Home Team alone. We will introduce a new national movement called SG Secure. SG Secure aims to sensitise, organise, train and exercise Singaporeans to be ready for a terrorist attack, and to play an active role in community vigilance, community cohesion and community resilience.


22.     A big part of this will have to be in partnership with the SCDF. They will have a big part in this as well. Home Team National Service officers, across all sectors will play an important part in SG Secure. Our NS officers will be trained to be SG Secure mobilisers within the community. Police will develop a new "Community Engagement Officer" vocation for Police NS Officers. We will re-deploy Police NS Officers from support roles. They will perform community engagement roles to support the Community Policing Units in our NPCs. They will be trained to communicate Police's crime prevention and counter terrorism advisories, as well as interact with the public, including students. They will be expected to work closely with community stakeholders, including actively promoting and supporting SG Secure initiatives. They will be SPF's key link to the ground, personnel linking us in our fight against crime and terrorism.


23.     Without a doubt, every member of the community will also have a role to play, to be vigilant and provide information to the Police. The Police will launch new platforms. These platforms will make it easy for members of the public to communicate with, alert and notify the Police on incidents, on crime and on terrorism. Under SPF's vision for Crowdsourcing 2.0, which is our next phase of crowd-sourcing efforts, we will hope to tap on everyone's smartphones and mobile devices. That, if we can reach out effectively, will provide SPF with millions of sensors, millions of pairs of eyes, which will help us protect our people better, in our communities.


24.     Today, we will launch Police's new "i-Witness" function in the Police@SG app. It will be easy and fast for members of the public to send information to the Police by text, photos, videos, using their smartphone or smart mobile devices. It allows SPF to immediately receive the information from a large number of people.


25.     To help our people prepare for any possible terrorist attack, we will send an advisory to the public. It will advise them on what to do if they find themselves in the middle of an attack. Other countries and other cities have done it. We have looked at it and we have modeled our advisory, taking what might work from others. The public will basically be advised to "Run, Hide and Tell". "Run" away from the danger because they will not be very successful facing someone with a weapon; "Hide" immediately,  find cover and stay out of sight from the active gunman, and when it is safe to do so, call the police, "Tell" the Police about the attackers. In some situations, it may not be safe to make a call. The Police will therefore launch a new SMS service, 71999. The public can use this to report an incident to the Police in an emergency.




26.     Next, on the Police's transformation. Even as we step up our counter terrorism efforts, we must continue to enhance the Police's effectiveness in preventing, deterring and detecting crime. MHA has embarked on ambitious plans to transform the entire Home Team over the next decade, which will help the Home Team keep pace with emerging challenges, especially the manpower crunch, tap onto new opportunities and operate more effectively, both as individual departments and as one Home Team.


27.     As part of MHA's wider plans, the Police will embark on this transformation journey, to leverage technology and build new capabilities. A significant part of this approach is really how we can better use currently available, as well as evolving, technology. For example, the CCTV network will be significantly enhanced under Polcam 2.0. Police will need new ways to analyse all the bits of data and video footage that is going to be taken.  It is not possible to do this manually, so they are developing and refining video analytics capabilities to automate the analysis of PolCam footage. This will highlight incidents of interest to our officers who can then look at it.

28.     The Police will also start the trial of unmanned vehicles to assist manned patrols. The Police Coast Guard (PCG) is exploring the use of Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV). The USVs would be expected to carry out localised surveillance patrols, project presence and intercept intruding vessels. The USVs will enhance PCG's response capabilities. They will allow PCG's manned patrol boats and officers to focus on other critical maritime functions. 

29.     Transformation is not just about technology. It is also about developing and implementing new operating models, new and more effective ways for the Police to operate, at the frontline.


30.     We will have to continue to make sure our policy and legislative framework better supports Police's work. The Organised Crime Act will come into force in the middle of this year. That will help the Police and other law enforcement agencies in their fight against transnational organised crime. We also plan to amend the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act, which will try and deal with the transnational nature of these crimes and try and keep pace with the changing modus operandi of cyber-criminals.




31.     Third, we have to continue to support our officers in the plans that I have talked about. A Police career has to be meaningful and exciting, one that is able to attract and retain good people. SPF has conducted a review of the Police Scheme. SPF will implement a new unified rank structure, and expert tracks in specialist domain areas. We have decided to invest more in our police officers to support their learning and professional development. 


32.     We have also reviewed our plans for our National Servicemen. They play a key role in our Police Force. We will focus on their deployment in operational roles. They make direct impact on ground situations. We will give them more opportunities in leadership and specialist roles.


33.     On this note, I would like to recognise and thank our Voluntary Special Constables and other volunteers, as well as our community partners, for your support to the Police.  You play an important role in keeping Singapore safe and secure. We thank you for your service and contributions. 




34.     2015 of course had been a particularly challenging year. We met very heavy operational needs, demands, a string of high profile events, while continuing to managing the day-to-day responsibilities. SPF rose to the challenge, met the challenge and the results are there for everyone to see.


35.     Singaporeans thank you for working tirelessly, often under challenging circumstances, to safeguard us and our neighbourhoods under the capable leadership of Commissioner of Police Hoong Wee Teck and his senior officers. As the SPF embarks on its transformation journey and develops its officers, the SPF will continue to be a Force for the Nation, successful in keeping Singapore safe and secure, now and in the future.


36.     I wish you a fruitful and meaningful Workplan Seminar. Thank you.


Managing Security Threats