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     FrontPage Edition: Wed 5 September 2007

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The Private Security Industry Bill 2007 passed


Second Reading Speech for The Private Security Industry Bill 2007, Ministry of Home Affairs
Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
Impetus for the Bill
In the post 9/11 security environment, the Government has enhanced our security measures in key installations and upgraded the capabilities of our security forces to deal with the new threat of terrorism.
However, the police cannot be everywhere. Therefore, it is imperative that we also upgrade the professional standards in the private security industry, so that it can complement the work of our security forces in contributing to Singapore’s overall safety and security.
The critical role of security personnel can be seen in the many incidents that have occurred in the region and elsewhere in the world. In both the Marriott and Australian Embassy bombings in Jakarta, security personnel had approached the vehicles loaded with explosives before the vehicles were driven up to the buildings proper.
As a result, the suicide bombers detonated their bombs earlier than planned - before they could position their vehicles near the buildings, where the explosion would have caused many more casualties.
As the security threat evolves, we will need to ensure that we have a competent and professional private security industry to help safeguard our safety and security. This is the impetus for the key changes that the Bill is introducing.
Introduction of licensing regimes for private investigators and security officers
Sir, let me now take the House through the key features of the Bill.
First and foremost, we have to strengthen our regulatory framework for private investigators and security officers—or what are commonly known as “security guards”—by putting in place separate licensing regimes for them.
Security officers guard many of our shopping malls, commercial buildings, hotels and key installations. They should be alert in detecting and reporting potential threats. Their timely reports of any suspicious activity can bring about expeditious action by law enforcement agencies. At the same time, they are an additional resource in our response to security incidents.
Let me cite an example. About 2 months back, the SCDF received an anonymous call before noon, informing them that a bomb was going to explode at the Raffles Place. Together with the security officers deployed in the vicinity, Police immediately checked the vicinity of Clifford Centre where the call was traced to. A security officer deployed at the Clifford Centre assisted the Police in reviewing the CCTV recording and provided information that helped to identify the likely culprit.
That same afternoon, there was a second call to the SCDF informing them that bombs had been planted at Orchard Road and Tanjong Pagar. This time, the call was traced to International Plaza. Police responded immediately. Security officers deployed at the location again assisted the Police in reviewing the CCTV recording.
The likely culprit of the morning episode was again identified in this set of CCTV recording. A quick search was done in the vicinity and the culprit was arrested following his admission to making both the bomb hoax calls.
This example shows the value of well-trained and vigilant security officers who can complement our security forces. We are therefore introducing an enhanced regulatory regime, where all security officers, and private investigators as well, will be licensed personally, so that:
a.     it will enable the licensing authority to conduct the necessary background checks and prevent undesirable elements from operating as security officers or private investigators; and
b.     it will enable the licensing authority to specify the requisite skills and qualifications that private investigators and security officers should have. In time to come, the licensing authority may require security officers who work at more sensitive installations, where the security threat is higher, to possess higher level qualifications and skills. 
This licensing regime will also apply to those security officers and private investigators in the direct employment of building owners or businesses, and who currently do not need Police's approval to work.

Source: News 27 Aug 2007

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