Singapore: MHA says police cameras helped in solving more than 2,300 cases

Singapore police cameras

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Parliamentary Secretary Amrin Amin in Parliament said on Tuesday that video footage from police cameras has helped solve more than 2,300 cases as of end 2017. The government is planning to install 11,000 cameras at 2,500 locations islandwide over the next few years.

As of last year, 5,000 cameras have been installed in town centres, neighbourhood centres, hawker centres and linkways leading to transportation nodes such as MRT stations and bus interchanges. In 2012, , 65,000 cameras, known as PolCam 1.0, were installed in neighbourhoods, while PolCam 2.0 was introduced in mid-2016.

"Our approach has broad support from the public, and has resulted in people feeling safe," Amrin told Channel NewsAsia. "Public confidence and trust in the police remains high. In a perception survey conducted in 2016 by the police, about 95 per cent of respondents feel safe in their neighbourhoods and trust the Singapore Police Force (SPF) as an organisation."

"Among the survey respondents who felt safer, than before, the installation of police cameras in the estates was one of the top factors contributing to their perception that their neighbourhood is safer," he added.

Amrin also said that the strict protocols in place over privacy concerns raised by Member of Parliament Pritam Singh. "SPF has data protection safeguards and controls on the use of Police camera footage. The footage is securely stored, and only authorised persons are allowed to access them. Any officer found accessing the footage for unauthorised purposes will be severely dealt with," he explained.

"Audits are conducted on a regular basis ... as and when there are irregularities; as and when the need requires, we will do checks," Amrin added.

The cameras that are part of PolCam 2.0 are designed to detect anomalous events such as persons fighting and sudden congregation or dispersal of crowds. The police operators will then be alerted and they can dispatch resources if required. The cameras can also identify suspects and allow officers to quickly search for images to facilitate investigations.

"Police cameras in general, have proven to be very useful in helping the police deter and solve crimes, including unlicensed moneylending, theft and outrage of modesty," Amrin said. "The deployment of cameras is crucial in deterring and dealing with crime, and any terrorist activity. The police will continue to install more cameras."

This article was first published on February 6, 2018