Those who abuse and harass private security officers carrying out their work could be liable under new offences that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is looking into instituting.
MHA said it intends to better protect private security officers from harassment or abuse, and is looking at amending the Private Security Industry Act in 2021.
In a statement , MHA said private security officers play an important role in ensuring the safety and security of the premises to which they are deployed. “However, during the course of their work, they can face verbal and sometimes physical abuse. MHA takes a serious view of the harassment and abuse of private security officers,” said the ministry. The move comes in response to several highly publicised reports of security officers being abused last year, and after much lobbying by security associations and unions to better protect them.
Outrage was sparked last Deepavali, when a condominium resident was caught on camera verbally abusing a security guard over parking charges. Security associations and unions lauded the Ministry’s move. President of the Association for Certified Security Agencies (Acsa) Robert Wiener said the condominium abuse incident was just the “tip of the iceberg”.
“Our people get abused all the time while doing their job,” said Mr Wiener and added that he was very pleased to hear of the changes.
About 30 percent of security officers have experienced abuse while at work, according to a survey of 1,549 officers between November 2019 and February 2020, commissioned by the Union of Security Employees (USE). 56 per cent of the officers surveyed said they experienced abuse at least once a month. Another 48 per cent said they faced abuse from the general public. Executive secretary of USE Steve Tan said security officers are prone to abuse, as their jobs often require them to “provoke people” , by getting them to abide by the rules of the premises.
“This is their job and if they get abused because of it, that’s definitely unfair to them,” said Mr Tan. He added that enhanced protection is welcome, as it sends a strong signal that abuse is not allowed. The Security Industry Council said protecting the welfare and dignity of security officers is of paramount importance.