Home Team invests in technology to do job better

Home Team invests in technology to do job better

Making the best use of Home Team officers, relying on technology to enhance their abilities, and getting the public more involved.

These are the three pillars that the Home Affairs Ministry plans to strengthen to continue keeping Singapore safe and secure, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean yesterday.

His ministry expects spending to go up by 11.7 per cent to about $5 billion for the next financial year, to help deliver on the three fronts, combat terrorism and growing cybercrime, and meet the needs of an ageing population.

Spending on systems and technology will also more than double - from about 8 per cent in the past five years to about 20 per cent over the next five years.

DPM Teo said: "We will allow technology to do the things that technology does better so that officers can do other things that, with their personal interaction and judgment, can do better."

By 2016, police cameras, which Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran said has worked to deter potential harassers in cases of illegal moneylending and provided crucial evidence for investigation, will be installed at the void decks and multi-storey carparks of all 10,000 HDB blocks.

All 164 motorcycle counters at Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoints will be automated by the end of next year, to not just speed up clearance but also allow officers to focus on critical tasks such as screening travellers with high-risk profiles, said DPM Teo.

The Traffic Police will install 30 more digital red light cameras, bringing the total number to 150. The cameras have been a success, said DPM Teo.

When first installed in March last year, the number of violators caught shot up sharply. But this has since gone down, with motorists more wary now.

The Home Team will continue to put more boots on the ground. It plans to add 2,000 officers over the next five years, and at the same time retain talent.

Officers, said DPM Teo, will be given more opportunities to advance into senior ranks.

More full-time and operationally ready national servicemen will be deployed to the front line to complement regular officers.

But the community also has a "major role in keeping Singapore safe and secure", said DPM Teo.

He pointed out how the five million smartphone cameras in pockets here and the increasing number of vehicle cameras are resources which can be tapped into.

Crowdsourcing will not just help police get information on traffic violations and crimes, but could also prove critical should there be a major incident, he said.

DPM Teo said these strategies are needed given that demands on the Home Team will continue to go up not just because of external threats, but also Singapore's growing importance as an international hub and changing population.

More than 500,000 people passed through the checkpoints every day last year - a 33 per cent increase from 2009 - and numbers are expected to grow.

The number of citizens aged 65 and above grew from 318,000 in 2009 to 415,000 last year. This has resulted in 31 per cent more ambulance calls over the period. With elderly citizens expected to number 900,000 by 2030, demand for emergency services will only climb.

Despite the challenges, it is important to remember that Singa- pore's overall crime rate of 589 cases for every 100,000 population remains low compared to other cities such as London and Hong Kong, said DPM Teo.

limyihan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 7, 2015.
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