SINGAPORE – The Security Industry Council (SIC) is launching new initiatives to support private security officers who suffer abuse while doing their jobs, in the wake of a high-profile spat between a condominium resident and a security officer over parking charges.
In a statement on Tuesday (Nov 5), the SIC said security officers can report cases of verbal and physical abuse by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org, a new one-stop e-mail helpline.
An umbrella body comprising the Association of Certified Security Agencies (ACSA), the Security Association Singapore (SAS) and the Union of Security Employees (USE), the SIC said cases received will be routed to USE’s existing mediation service at its Customer Service Centre for further assessment and follow-up.
“Depending on the cases, assistance will be rendered to the affected officers – this could be in terms of mediation, providing legal advice or supporting officers to apply for medical leave, medical claims or even change of site or roles,” said the SIC.
“USE would also work with industry stakeholders where the need arises, such as escalating cases to the Police Licensing & Regulatory Department, or helping the officers lodge police reports.”
Singapore was gripped last week by a viral video showing a resident at the Eight Riversuites condominium in Whampoa verbally abusing a security officer over the Deepavali weekend.
Mr Erramalli Ramesh was caught on video swearing at Mr Steven Heng after being told by the security officer that he needed to pay a $10 fee for guests parking at the condo after 11pm.
In the video, Mr Erramalli could be heard telling the security officers that he bought his apartment for $1.5 million, adding: “You’re putting my visitors in such a position. You’re telling me for Diwali, they can’t visit after 11 o’clock?”
Mr Raymond Chin, general secretary of the USE, which is an affiliate of the National Trades Union Congress, said the union is happy to offer its mediation services to help officers deal with the unfair abuse they face when executing their duties as prescribed by the law.
“We stand united with our officers and will not hesitate to do our utmost to protect their welfare and dignity,” he added.
SAS president Raj Joshua Thomas said the e-mail helpline provides an avenue for officers to send complaints and videos on abuse, so that their grievances can be dealt with legally, and without having to get into trouble for doxxing and harassment.
“The Office of the SAS Counsel will act on complaints received to advise officers and if necessary, arrange for representation for officers who are abused or have other legal issues,” he added.
ACSA president Robert Wiener said the association and its members fully supported the cause to protect security officers who might face abuse in the course of their work.
“Security officers work round the clock to protect life and property. They should be given the due respect and not be abused for their noble discharge of their duties. Respect security officers, they stay vigilant so that you can sleep in peace,” he added.
In its statement on Tuesday, the SIC also said it would continue to advocate against abuse by distributing its decal for display at all sites as well as through outreach activities to recognise the work of security officers.
The SIC also referred to a poll conducted earlier this year by the USE, which involved 52 security officers, with about 73 per cent reporting some form of abuse, verbal or physical, in their work.
The SIC said it believes the numbers are larger, but officers either do not want to report them or do not know of the recourse available.
It added that according to the Private Security Industry Act, security officers serve the purposes of guarding, screening, surveying and controlling traffic and serve as bodyguards or bouncers.
Most of these functions require them to advise the public of the conditions and rules put in place by the managing agent or site representatives.
“Should the officer fail to execute the rules, they or their employer are often faced with financial penalties,” said the SIC.
To minimise the risk of abuse of security officers, the council encourages stakeholders in the industry, including service buyers, to support the transformation of the security profession.
It suggests that buyers begin using Outcome Based Contracting (OBC), which involves buyers adjusting their requirements to expected performance levels, rather than fixed amounts of manpower for output levels.
It also suggests the buyers begin proper Threat, Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (TVRA), which is a process of identifying and analysing the risks against critical assets of a site.
The SIC also advises buyers to install the right security technology at the sites according to the TVRA analysis and to deploy manpower that have been trained to use the technology.
“This will minimise the risk of abuse, and also nullify the practice of using liquidated damages to compel security agencies and their officers to enforce poorly devised rules, as is the common practice today,” it added.