SCDF to introduce stiffer penalties for unauthorised activities, enhance feedback channels

SCDF to introduce stiffer penalties for unauthorised activities, enhance feedback channels

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on Wednesday (May 23) announced a series of measures to guard against ragging and unauthorised activities within the force.

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on Wednesday (May 23) announced a series of measures to guard against ragging and unauthorised activities within the force.

The enhanced measures come after the death of an SCDF full-time national serviceman (NSF), who drowned in a fire station pump well during activities to celebrate his impending Operationally Ready Date (ORD). 

Metal grating will now be installed across the opening of pump wells, which will be locked to prevent unauthorised access. The use of pump wells will be strictly controlled, said SCDF, adding that CCTV coverage will be expanded.

Officers who did not participate in unauthorised activities, but were found to have done nothing to stop or report them despite being aware of what was happening, will also be punished.

"This sends a strong signal that such officers must also bear responsibility," said SCDF in a media release.

To help SCDF NSFs report any issues of concern, there will be more interview sessions with their supervisors.

Currently, the one-to-one interviews are conducted fortnightly during an NSF's first three months in a new unit. But moving forward, these interviews will also be held during the last three months of an NSF's service, and they will be conducted by senior SCDF officers who are not based at their same station.

"This ensures impartiality in the feedback process, and facilitates in reassuring the NSFs to bring up any issues of concern," said SCDF. "Any case of unauthorised activities reported during these interviews will be immediately surfaced to SCDF senior management for necessary follow-up action."

Families, too, will have access to a feedback channel. SCDF said it will set up a dedicated staff feedback helpline on a 24/7 basis to support its existing whistle-blowing framework.

"This will allow SCDF officers and their families to contact SCDF at any time to provide feedback relating to the workplace, including feedback and concerns over unacceptable practices."

SCDF reiterated its "zero tolerance" towards all forms of ragging and unauthorised initiation activities, adding that it will also "carefully consider" any recommendations that the Board of Inquiry might make. 

The SCDF and Home Team agencies were tasked to relook the rules and how they are enforced, following the death of Corporal (CPL) Kok Yuen Chin. 

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam had said in Parliament last week that more needed to be done to prevent such incidents from happening again, calling the conduct of those involved in CPL Kok's case "unacceptable" and a "clear and serious violation of the rules".

Investigations are ongoing, but Mr Shanmugam said there will "almost certainly" be criminal proceedings.

Source: CNA/gs

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