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Published: 16 Jul 2011 05:46PM (Singapore)
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Shaping a Home Team future
At his first Home Team workplan event, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean laid down a five-pronged vision to take the Home Team into the future.
By Tracy Sua
PHOTO: Tan Yi Wen

As criminals and terrorists are known to seek out and exploit gaps between jurisdictions and agencies, closer cooperation and synergy in the Home Team is vital, noted Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

“Criminals and law-breakers are unlikely to work in silos, and major crises or incidents will require not just a whole-of-Home Team, but a whole-of-government effort,” said DPM Teo who is also the Home Affairs Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for National Security.

Closer cooperation and synergy in the Home Team tops his five-pronged plan to take the Home Team into the future.

DPM Teo announced his plan to Home Team officers at his very first Home Team workplan event, Home Team Convention 2011.

The Home Affairs Ministry had set the foundation for a united homeland security front in 1997 when the Home Team concept was launched.

There have been several initiatives that have deepened the collaborative spirit.

The latest one is the set up of the Home Team School of Criminal Investigation which aims to equip Home Team investigators with the latest and most comprehensive training.

“Departments must continually ask themselves if there are greater synergies to exploit to achieve its mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure,” he said.

“There are other areas such as logistics, human resource or technology where the Home Team can leverage on our inter-departmental strengths and resources.”

PHOTO: Tan Yi Wen

Planning, intelligence and operations are key areas with the biggest operational benefits from this synergy be it for daily operations or for the strategic long term.

Adapting to a post 9/11 norm of needing to continually counter threats of terrorism is DPM Teo’s second focus.

With the threat of terrorism not lifting anytime soon, the Home Team must incorporate counter-terrorism into its mainstream work and officers across all levels must adopt it as a “new normal” when planning and executing operations and responding to incidents.

This means that if a policeman responds to a call of suspicious behavior, he should be conditioned to think of all the possibilities and not just criminal activity.

Preparing to tackle future challenges is DPM Teo’s third area of focus.

With globalization and the inter-connectivity of the Internet increasing the danger of transnational,  cross-border and cyber crimes, working more closely with like-minded countries and international cooperative networks like Interpol and ASEAN is needed he said.

The Interpol Global Complex, which opens in 2014, will provide opportunities to collaborate with a broader and deeper pool of international security experts.

DPM Teo said Singapore’s manpower constraints means technology will always be a key enabler in operations.

“I would like to challenge the Home Team to develop new beyond-the-horizon technologies to deter, detect, investigate, prosecute and convict,” he said.

“We need particularly to stay at the forefront of cyber and computer technologies, forensics, vision systems and analytics, and command and control systems.”

PHOTO: Tan Yi Wen

People being the Home Team’s most valuable asset is the fourth area of focus.

DPM Teo said that there is a need to recruit and retain dedicated officers.

As Home Team officers have to respond rapidly to dynamic situations, contain them and prevent them from getting out of hand, he said frontline officers must be effectively empowered and trained.

He said recruitment figures are finite and departments should invest in systems and technology to increase the effectiveness of staff and make full use of the suite of abilities and skills they have in addition to giving them greater challenge and job satisfaction.

In his final area of focus DPM Teo reiterated that the Home Team has to continue to “forge new partnerships and reinforce existing ones” with citizens.

He announced that a newly set up entity called the Home Team Volunteers Network will help develop and support Home Team volunteers.

The network will be chaired and led by former Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and Law Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee.

DPM Teo, in laying out his vision for the Home Team, emphasized that the Home Team has done well and risen to the challenges but there is still much work to be done.

“When there are new or unexpected requirements, our officers rise to the occasion and deliver. But we need to create some capacity - to respond to new demands, to anticipate and prepare for the challenges of the future,” he said.
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