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More security guards getting counter-terrorism training

An anti-terrorism course has seen an 8 per cent rise in student numbers annually for the past five years, with the majority of students being security guards, according to the Singapore Workforce Development Agency. 

SINGAPORE: Amid the rising threat of terrorism and extremism in the region, more security guards in Singapore are getting training in anti-terrorism efforts to help the authorities keep the country safe.

To date, more than 18,000 people – the majority of them being security guards – have undergone an anti-terrorism course offered by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA). The course, launched in 2006, has seen an 8 per cent rise in student numbers annually for the past five years, WDA said.

The three-day course – held at various approved training organisations such as the Security Industry Institute and NTUC LearningHub – is not compulsory for security guards.

A WDA spokesperson added that based on the trend observed by LearningHub of the counter-terrorism course it conducts, about 95 per cent of the trainees are active security officers from either in-house security departments or security agencies. 

But with the heightened security awareness in the region, as well as more high-profile global events being held in Singapore, demand for such courses is on the rise, WDA said.

To ensure the course remains up-to-date and relevant, WDA keeps in touch with the authorities like the police as well as key players in the security industry. For example, students will be updated on the recent terror threats in the region and how such groups operate.

Training is conducted through group discussions, case studies and role-playing to create a greater sense of realism. They are trained to handle potentially dangerous situations and to look out for unusual behaviour. These can include how to respond when they receive a letter that could be laced with a poisonous substance like anthrax, what steps need to be taken to check on suspicious vehicles, and how to identify suspicious callers over the phone.

NTUC LearningHub associate trainer Cheo Keng Guan said: "We give them scenarios, things like abandoned vehicles - when people abandon vehicles and start running. Or in our Singapore weather, a person wears a jacket.  Sometimes you find a person who is small-built, small-sized and is dressed in oversized, baggy clothes – they could be hiding weapons or explosives."

At least one security firm - Soverus Security Solutions - told Channel NewsAsia it plans to send all 800 of its staff for such courses by 2017.