Updated: 02/18/2014 00:03

ICA and Police made serious error of judgment

ICA and Police made serious error of judgment

Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean says last month's security breach at the Woodlands Checkpoint is "unacceptable". 

He said there was a "serious error of judgement" on the part of the ground officers. 

The officers involved, including their supervisors will be disciplined. 

Mr Teo, who's also Deputy Prime Minister gave a thorough account of the incident, in Parliament. 

He said on January the 17th at close to 2pm, a woman arrived at the Woodlands Checkpoint in a Malaysian-registered car. 

She went past immigration by tailgating the car in front of her. 

The officer in charge did not immediately trigger the alarm. 

It was sounded only two and a half minutes later. 

The woman then cruised through the secondary check area. 

Again, another officer there, did not sound the alarm. 

"If the ICA officer had sounded the alarm faster than the 2.5 minutes she took, it would have triggered a lock down which would have stopped the car from leaving the checkpoint. This was compounded by the APO not raising the alarm when the car did not stop for checks." 

DPM Teo further revealed that Police ground commanders had also failed to follow a security protocol, which is activated when a vehicle makes an unauthorised exit from the checkpoint. 

"They made an error of judgment and classified the incident as a less serious one - as an immigration offence. As a result, Police did not trigger an alert that would have immediately directed patrol cars to mount road blocks at possible travel routes of the car in major parts of Singapore." 

Besides, the ICA and Police also did not issue a heightened and persistent alert, with the description of the car and driver, that would have alerted all ground forces to continue looking for them when they conducted vehicular searches, checks and screening. 

Three days later, on January the 20th, Police received a "triple 9" call from a taxi-driver who said he was being followed by a Malaysian-registered car. 

On Police's advice, the cabbie drove to a location outside the Police Cantonment Complex, with the car following him. 

Mr Teo said when police officers tried to engage the woman, she was unresponsive, and then drove off. 

Police officers did not pursue her. 

45 minutes later, the woman went into the compound of the Foreign Affairs Ministry by tailgating another car. 

She was finally arrested there for criminal trespass. 

Following the incident, Mr Teo the Commissioners of ICA and the Police have presented to him their recommendations on the corrective actions. 

These include reviewing existing SOPs to ensure officers act quickly and effectively to deal with such security threats at the checkpoints. 

Police will treat all checkpoint security breach cases as high-level security threats and take all necessary steps to locate the intruder, until such time the threat no longer exists. 

Both departments will also conduct more frequent drills and joint exercises at the land checkpoints to maintain the officers' vigilance and validate the emergency response plans. 

In addition, the ICA will use more advanced technology and improved infrastructural design to reduce the reliance on human factors to trigger an immediate alert. 

Mr Teo said the ground commanders involved have been redeployed to non-operational posts pending disciplinary action. 

Their supervising officers will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, along with other officers involved in the incident. 

-By Lee Gim Siong

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