Singapore to tap private security firm resources

Singapore could soon use private sector personnel, including bankers and security guards, to help out in the aftermath of crises such as a terrorist bombing.

The plan, announced yesterday by the Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), could see security officers cordon roads off and manage crowds, while financiers use their communication systems to send out emergency warnings.

The measures are part of a scheme called Project Guardian, designed to tap the potential of private security guards to help in handling a crisis. The programme is part of a larger effort to involve the community in national security and will not be limited to the aftermath of bombings and other high-profile attacks.

Speaking yesterday at a national safety and security symposium, Minister for Law and Second Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam said: 'Terrorism is ultimately defeated by the people, not just governments. The local community plays an equally vital role in preventing terrorism.'

The plan is based on a similar system in Britain that began in April 2004, said a police spokesman. With more than 27,000 private security guards here, the police have a pool of guards equipped with basic crime and terrorism prevention skills, he said.

Three private security companies - Certis Cisco, Aetos Security Management and G4S Security Services - have come on board. Their workers are expected to begin a training programme in September that will school them in support work such as diverting traffic, controlling crowds and cordoning off disaster zones.

Global financial services firm JPMorgan Chase has also joined the project. In the event of a crisis, the company will use its communication system to notify the Project Guardian team.