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Shanmugam acknowledges SPF’s manpower trade-off amid elderly concerns on automated NPPs

WP Chair Sylvia Lim expressed elderly concerns on tech use in neighborhood police. Minister Shanmugam acknowledged trade-offs in SPF manpower, prioritizing critical areas like tackling scams and sexual offences.



SINGAPORE: Workers’ Party (WP) Chairman and Aljunied GRC MP, Ms Sylvia Lim, expressed concerns regarding the Home Team’s adoption of technology to alleviate manpower demands in public services.

Ms Lim specifically highlighted worries about the satisfaction levels of the elderly population regarding the removal of the manned neighbourhood police posts (NPPs) and converted them to automated NPPs.

In response, K. Shanmugam, the Minister for Home Affairs, acknowledged the necessity for trade-offs in the allocation of resources within the Singapore Police Force (SPF). He emphasized the prioritization of areas with critical needs, such as combating scams and sexual offences.

“We are looking to channel more resources towards them. But Members will appreciate on the flipside, this naturally also means there are some other areas, where work will be deprioritised. These are the trade-offs.”

Ms Lim inquires MHA’s manpower crunch and its underlying causes

During the debate on the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) budget on Thursday (29 February), Ms Lim highlighted the manpower crunch faced by the Home Team, emphasizing the critical role officers play in daily public interactions.

She highlighted the pivotal need for proper staffing, not only to uphold staff morale but also to avert potential negative impacts on public outcomes.

She sought clarification from the Minister whether the main manpower crunch is worsening and, if so, seeks clarification on the main reasons behind it.

Ms. Lim highlighted a notable trend, particularly in the police force, exemplified by the increase in officers from approximately 8,000 in 2013 to over 10,000 presently.

During this period, Singapore’s population also experienced an 8% growth, rising from 5.47 million in 2014 to 5.92 million in June last year.

Ms Lim also noted that MHA has highlighted the significant impact of scam cases, adding to the workload of police investigators, which is contributing to the overall manpower challenges.

Ms Lim brought attention to residents reporting investigator resignations and changes, emphasizing the potential for such disruptions to impede investigations.

She also observed a growing trend in public services, like neighbourhood police establishments, adopting technology to curtail manpower demands.

“While I accept that this is necessary, has the ministry assessed the public satisfaction levels for such changes, especially in the elderly population? ”

Emphasizing the importance of retaining experienced officers as a stabilizer for the police force, she also sought information from the Minister, specifically asking for the proportion of officers resignations attributed to “push” factors, such as workload or high public expectations.

Encouraging the public to access digital services

In response, Minister Shanmugam explained the rationale behind the removal of manned Neighborhood Police Posts (NPPs) and the conversion to automated NPPs.

He admitted that that there hasn’t been a specific survey on elderly opinions about unmanned NPPs, but highlighted ongoing publicity campaigns aimed at educating the public about the use of digital services.

“There have also been ongoing efforts to review the digital services for lodging of Police reports to make them more user-friendly. ”

“We also still have physically manned counters available across Singapore for those who prefer to report in person. So, it would not be at the NPP but they will have to go to the specific Police stations. ”

“While we have not conducted specific survey on unmanned NPPs, there are alternatives available including manned counters, albeit a little bit further away. ”

Minister Shanmugam again pointed out the Home Team’s Public Perception Survey of 2022, which included different demographics, including the elderly., indicating that 95% of respondents personally trust the Home Team. He added that the 2021 IPS study said 87% are confident or very confident in the SPF.

“That is the highest level of confidence in the Police around the world. So, I think overall there is that confidence and trust.”

On the manpower issues, she admitted that in the context of resourcing is that within the SPF, we have also looked at prioritising the areas that have the most pressing needs – for example, investigating scams, and sexual offences.

He acknowledged that prioritization also means some areas will be deprioritized, emphasizing the trade-offs involved.

“Very tight” manpower situation

The minister told the MP that the manpower situation in MHA agencies is “very tight” as the demands on the Home Team, including all departments, are growing sharply.

“This shortage of manpower is faced not just by MHA, including all the Home Team Departments, but by many other parts of the civil service as well. ”

He cited factors including declining birth rates in Singapore and government agencies are put on a very tight quota on new employment.

Minister Shanmugam Highlighted specific challenges faced by different Home Team department, including SPF dealing with more sophisticated crimes, including financial crimes and money laundering.

SCDF experiencing a significant increase in Emergency Medical Services calls, with a 30% annual demand growth in the last five years.

“The ICA has been dealing not only with an increase in traveller volumes, but is also preparing for new gateways into Singapore, like the Rapid Transit System Link with Malaysia, and Changi Airport Terminal 5. ”

Minister affirmed that in MHA, there is an obvious need to employ Singapore citizens for the majority of their work.

He mentioned the use of technology as one way to cope with the challenges posed by manpower shortages, describing it as a partially helpful strategy.

He also shared that the Home Team has also been relying on retired officers, community partners and volunteers. Over the past five years, 36% of our retirees were re-employed in uniformed roles, and a crucial part played by volunteers in the various Home Team Departments

Minister Shanmugam further expressed concern about the workload in the SPF’s investigation fraternity, especially in handling scams.

He highlighted SPF’s efforts to address this challenge by automating and streamlining investigation processes. One notable initiative is the launch of CRIMES3, a next-gen case management system. This system automates manual tasks, provides officers with sense-making capabilities, and enables them to work digitally on the move.

Automation of Neighbourhood Police Posts since 2013

Since 2013, the Police implemented self-help kiosks at Neighbourhood Police Centres (NPCs) and fully automated redesigned NPPs.

In July 2023, Ms Lim filed a Parliamentary question to inquire about the outcomes of the automated NPPs, any workload shift to 999 calls or NPCs, and public usage levels compared to pre-redesign.

At the time, Minister Shanmugam in a written reply told Ms Lim that the outcome of the NPPs automation has been good.

He emphasised the public’s utilization of self-help options, including kiosks at NPCs and NPPs, alongside Police e-services, has steadily risen. This advancement enables the public to access services 24/7.

However, on the workload change, Minister Shanmugam explained that multiple factors contribute, making it challenging to attribute shifts solely to one factor.

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“The minister told the MP that the manpower situation in MHA agencies is “very tight” as the demands on the Home Team, including all departments, are growing sharply.” If that’s the case, why it is necessary for 4 policemen patrolling MRT stations, sometime even with SWAT team in 4 too! Don’t you think 2 is enough, even if it was necessary! What are those MRT’s security staff doing, sitting at one corner of the stations? I was told it was to prevent molestation! Do you need 4 police to do so? I would think stopping commuters playing loud music or… Read more »

No more excuses sham. You and the rest of the pap folks repeatedly offer excuses after excuses for all your poor performances everywhere. Improve your performance or we will vote you out. Yishin/Sembawang voters! Please act!

The fatal Little India riots of 2013 – when foreigner workers overturned government vehicles and set them on fire, policemen running away from rioters, dangers posed to public health and safety, these were already a warning sign to pap something had gone terribly wrong. Unbridled and uncontrolled mass immigration costing our societal well being gravely in the face of sham’s trade-off by hiring fewer police and putting cameras in place of human police. It’s not just police trade-off that is deadly. It’s trading off our Singaporeans safety and security to achieve whatever stupid kpis the police commissioner and their underlings… Read more »

The recent case of mistreatment inside the SPF that led to suicide highlights the rot that has been festering in Singapore’s uniformed services.

How much useless work is done by lower down the ladder? Shouldn’t SPF and SCDF focus on their actual jobs and push everything else to the MHA?

What exactly do people employed by the MHA do, exactly?

Javier Milei, now the president of Argentina once said that “The state does not create wealth, the state destroys it.”

I am starting to believe that now. The ruling government is taking the wealth of Singaporeans and turning into nothing beneficial.

This Koban nonsense in spf was forced by a Botak. He knows nothing of policing just want to follow japan.

in japan Koban officers ride their bicycles through the villages and stop by to greet the villagers.

It is high time for these npps to be scrapped. The police officers also do not like to work in npps as there is no avenue for advancement.

Tell you what. You can seek my advice what you can do with the little npp huts.

Manpower trade off…lack of manpower …..low pay…..cannot attract ppl to the job….tonnes of excuses…but no excuse for lavish state spending to restore a B&W bungalow just for his pleasure to reside in it!😆😆😆🤣🤣🤣

This is a very valid question by MP Sylvia Lim. With population increasing from 3m+ in the 1980s to current almost 6m, the number of NPP decreased and shut down by a lot.

Yet the top civil servants especially the almost unnecessary and expensive to have Mayors were created for don’t know what?

The millions can be saved to increase NPP and police officers to serve the ever exploding population.