ANOTHER 2,000 officers will be added to the Home Team in the next five years to ensure that it has enough muscle to keep Singapore safe, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean said yesterday.
Still, this is a slower pace of recruitment compared with the last decade, when 5,400 officers were brought in, boosting the Home Team from about 19,300 officers in 2004 to 24,700 last year.
The 2,000 to be added include uniformed and non-uniformed officers for the police and civil defence forces, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, Central Narcotics Bureau and Prisons.
"There are natural limits to how much we can grow the Home Team, given the smaller cohorts of young Singaporeans entering the workforce each year," Mr Teo told Parliament during the debate on his ministry's budget.
"We will partially address this issue by re- employing more of our officers."
The retirement age for uniformed junior officers was raised to 55 in 2013, matching that of senior officers.
Both may be given extensions to work until 60. The ministry plans to further leverage technology and involve the public to help alleviate manpower issues.
But Mr Teo assured the House that the Special Operations Command (SOC) will get the manpower it needs to respond effectively to large-scale incidents.
In the wake of the 2013 Little India riot, Singapore's worst public disorder incident in 40 years, then police commissioner Ng Joo Hee told a Committee of Inquiry he would need 1,000 more police officers. This would let him deploy more men to the SOC.
Mr Teo said yesterday the SOC is on track to add 300 officers by 2017, and aims to recruit 150 officers by the year end. "This involves selecting very good people, making sure that they are well trained and properly equipped. So, it takes a bit of time."
This article was first published on March 07, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.