Law to penalise unauthorised use and sale of police items

Law to penalise unauthorised use and sale of police items
Police badges, tees, and insignias sold at the Army Market in Beach Road on Jan 29 2015.

THE sale of police badges and uniforms at Beach Road's Army Market could soon be a thing of the past.

Under the Police Force (Amendment) Bill introduced yesterday by Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, it will be an offence for someone to use police items like badges, uniforms and car decals to falsely represent himself as an officer.

The unauthorised distribution and sale of such items will also be illegal.

Many such items can now be easily bought online or at the Army Market.

Some online sites also offer Traffic Police car decals, which some people put on their vehicles in the hope of influencing parking wardens.

The proposed changes to the law are "to reflect the seriousness of anyone attempting to falsely present himself as...the police", the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement after the Bill was introduced.

The unauthorised use of such items carries a fine of up to $2,500 and a jail term of up to six months.

Those who distribute and sell such items may be fined up to $10,000 and jailed up to three years.

It is already a crime to impersonate a police officer.

Those convicted may be jailed up to two years and fined.

Mr Edwin Tong, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law, said: "Over the last couple of years, there are cases where people commit offences as victims are duped into believing someone is an officer.

"Abuse of police logos and so on has a far greater effect than just the particular offence itself.

It is possible that the rise of such cases has led to this amendment."

Shopkeepers at the Army Market in Beach Road yesterday told The Straits Times they have been informed of the proposed changes by the authorities. Most of their customers are full-time national servicemen, they said.

Mr Soh Yiam Teck, 52, said: "Police told us we can finish clearing our stock.

The suppliers were also told that they can't deliver the items to us anymore."

But some are worried that they may not be able to clear the stock before the law kicks in.

Madam Guan Ying, 65, said: "I have 1,000 shirts in stock.

How can I clear them? Now where can the recruits go if they need to buy extra shirts?"

Other proposed changes in the Bill include allowing police NSmen to voluntarily serve beyond the present statutory age - 50 years for senior officers and 40 years for junior officers.

There are no details yet on how long they can continue serving for, but the MHA noted that their "knowledge and experience will be valuable".

Under the Bill, forensic specialists will also be given powers to secure and search a crime scene and seize evidence.

Individuals may be appointed as "community wardens" to help the police in cases involving disputes over noise.

The Bill will also clarify the powers of auxiliary police officers, such as those from Certis Cisco, on when they can detain or arrest offenders.

The Bill also proposed stiffer penalties for those who evade police roadblocks.

They can be fined up to $5,000 and jailed up to a year, compared with the current fine of up to $1,000 and a jail term of up to six months.

The proposed changes are expected to be debated next month.

This article was first published on Jan 30, 2015.
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