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Security Industry joint statement on Roxy Square incident

Security Industry joint statement on Roxy Square incident

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JOINT STATEMENT: Security Industry Stakeholders Respond to Public Debate Over Roxy Square Incident

Singapore, 10 April 2019—The recent incident at Roxy Square, involving a private security officer, has led to much public concern and debate. One recurring question has been why Mr Andrew Lim, the security officer in question, was not armed for self-defence.

Leacov School of Security, Security Association Singapore (SAS), and the Association of Certified Security Agencies (ACSA) are heartened to see such interest and discussion about the welfare of security officers. We aim to jointly address these public concerns in order to encourage a national conversation on the issues this incident has raised.

PROTECTING SECURITY OFFICERS

Private security officers provide an important public service as a crucial link in the SGSecure chain. By the nature of their work, they face personal risks and threats, regardless of where they are deployed. However, our officers are often underappreciated and not respected, even by the very people they are keeping safe. This culture has led to certain individuals thinking they have the right to take out their frustration on our officers, or to insist on getting their way forcefully.

In an industry with such risks, it is logical to feel that officers should be equipped to protect themselves. However, such protective tools as the public has suggested—which include batons, pepper spray, tasers—are actually strictly controlled or prohibited in Singapore. Furthermore, even if security officers were allowed to use such tools to protect themselves, this does not come without personal and legal risk to them.

TRAINED TO HANDLE DISORDERLY SITUATIONS

Private security officers are not protected from litigation or prosecution in the discharge of their duties, and in the heat of the moment, officers may leave themselves open to legal liability. To protect them from retaliatory litigation, security officers are trained not to make any physical or violent moves themselves, but to ensure that their actions are witnessed or recorded, and to escalate the case where necessary.

Under the current WSQ security training framework, officers are trained to handle situations involving disorderly conduct in the “WSQ Manage Disorderly Conduct and Threatening Behaviour” course. In fact, Mr Andrew Lim, the security supervisor involved in the incident, had clearly and exemplarily followed his training, upholding his conduct and professionalism even in the face of grave provocation.

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT FROM THE LAW

While we can prepare and train our officers to handle such situations, there should also be more protection and support for security officers through the law, to reduce their personal need to defend themselves. The ideal situation would be one where people are deterred from abusing officers in the first place.

Currently, although our officers play an important role in Singapore’s security, they are not accorded a status in law that sufficiently recognises their importance. Under the Protection from Harassment Act, only those working in public places are recognised as “public service workers” for the purpose of extra protection, while those in non-public sites are only accorded ordinary protection. Yet any attack or security threat, whether in a public or private location, is an attack on the fabric of the whole of Singapore. Even in protecting a private site, our officers serve a very public purpose.

The law seems to consider security officers as playing such an important role that their behaviour is specially regulated by a Code of Conduct backed by criminal penalties. Yet it does not accord them the corresponding protection and status in law to empower them to perform their job without fear or favour wherever they are. To underscore the authority of our officers and the respect that is due to their work, and also to keep them safe, it would be very useful to provide for heavier penalties for abusers and stronger protection in law.

CONCLUSION

Even as we hope that incidents such as this one at Roxy Square do not repeat themselves, we in the industry will look into all ways to ensure our officers are able to keep themselves safe, and we hope that the law will also continue to provide the necessary support to ensure these crucial servants of our national security will receive the protection and recognition they deserve. We also hope that this incident will give the public a greater understanding and sympathy for the challenges and constraints our unsung officers face every day.

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