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Better response protocol, communications needed: Little India COI

"The lack of up-to-date information and communication rendered the command and control of the incident extremely difficult, and did not allow officers to take more decisive actions against the rioters before the arrival of the SOC": Committee of Inquiry.

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Police Force should look into cutting red-tape for activation protocols, better training for frontline officers to deal with riots and improving their overall communication strategies, the Committee of Inquiry into the Little India riot of Dec 8, 2013, said on Monday (June 30).

Likewise, there is a need to make more services and amenities available to foreign workers beyond their main congregation areas, such as Little India, and preferably at their dorms.

There is a need to cut the layers of approval or time needed to activate emergency response teams, the committee said, as this was a factor that slowed down the arrival of the Special Operations Command (SOC) at the scene of the riot.

“The Singapore Police Force should use the lesson of the riot to proactively seek out other areas where unnecessary red tape can be cut, to be able to meet Singapore’s security needs more swiftly in times of need,” the committee wrote in the report.

UPGRADES NEEDED

The committee recommended that the police increase their technological capabilities to help them see what is happening on the ground, perhaps in the form of street closed-circuit cameras, in-vehicle cameras, or cameras worn on officers' uniforms. Crowd-sourced footage can serve as an additional data source, the COI said.

There is also a need to upgrade communications protocol and systems, such as giving priority to messages sent out by the commanding officer, while communications between the ground commander and SOC resources could be made more direct, rather than through the police's Combined Operations Room.

"The lack of up-to-date information and communication rendered the command and control of the incident extremely difficult, and did not allow officers to take more decisive actions against the rioters before the arrival of the SOC," the COI said in its report.

TRAINING AND EQUIPPING FRONTLINE RESPONDERS

The committee also recommended that frontliners should be better trained for riot prevention and crowd control, and provided with the training, protective gear, and other needed equipment to deal with unexpected public order incidents. Such protective gear should also be extended to officers in non-combat roles responding to potentially dangerous situations, such as paramedics, the COI said.

Uniforms should be worn by officers wherever possible as “the psychological effect on rioters on seeing officers in full or official gear should not be underestimated”, the COI added. 

In his letter to Committee Chairman, G Pannir Selvam, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean said the committee's invaluable insights and suggestions will help the Home Team in its work to keep Singapore safe and secure. He added that both he and Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin will give the Government's response to the report in Parliament, next Monday (July 7). The Government is expected to accept all eight recommendations.

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