'Neighbourhood watch' on iPhone

By Zul Othman

HOW safe is your neighbourhood? What are the crimes that have taken place there recently?

Soon, you will be able to get such information just by tapping your iPhone.

This was one of the initiatives announced by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) at its annual workplan seminar yesterday.

The free iPhone application Police@SG can be downloaded from next month.

Users will be able to access police alerts and crime prevention news relevant to their neighbourhood, equipping them with information on measures that can prevent them from being the next victim.

The app will also carry the latest statistics on major crimes such as outrage of modesty, robbery, snatch theft, housebreaking and motor vehicle theft. These statistics will be updated once every three months.

This initiative is to keep pace with technological changes so that Singaporeans can access information, SPF's planning and organisation director Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Ng Yeow Boon said yesterday.

"We want to provide (Singaporeans) with sufficient information to take action (against these crimes)," said ACP Ng.

New features will be rolled out in subsequent updates based on user feedback and reviews, said ACP Ng.

The app will also help evaluate the effectiveness of using such technology as a community engagement tool.

In his keynote address at the seminar, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean challenged the SPF to leverage more on technology - from frontline applications to back-end forensics - to deter and solve crime.

"Criminals are increasingly exploiting modern technologies and finding new modus operandi to carry out their crimes," said Mr Teo, who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security.

"The police (force) must correspondingly increase its investments in technology and build new capabilities."

Mr Teo outlined three areas of focus for the police over the next year - loan-sharking, the increase in commercial crime and challenges in IT security.

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