The Singapore Police Force (SPF) was founded in 1819, making it the oldest government organisation in Singapore. Mr Francis James Bernard was the Chief Police Officer overseeing a very small unit comprising only one sergeant, 12 constables and a jailer. The lean force was strengthened in 1826 when the Singapore Police, together with Malacca and Penang, was incorporated into the Straits Settlements Police. However, law enforcement was an uphill task especially for an understaffed force when lawlessness was the order of the day as the population boomed.
Officers decked out in their full gear of songkok, long-sleeved serge coat, trousers, shin guard and black shoes in 1890
The Turn Of The Century
The early 1900s was a period of rapid transformation for the Force to be more systematic with the introduction of a criminal registry, fingerprint system, setting up of Police Headquarters at South Bridge Road, and establishments of the Marine Branch, the Criminal Intelligence, Traffic Branch, a Police Force Training Depot and a Communications Branch. The Force was expanded to about 2,000 strong, making Singapore a more peaceful and safer place than it was in the late 1800s.
Police Headquarters at South Bridge Road, 1905 - 1954
After the war, the police embarked on a major recruitment drive to supplement the regular officers thus forming the Volunteer Special Constabulary in 1946. In 1948, the Republic of the Singapore Police Force established the Radio Division at Eu Tong Sen Street and the police emergency hotline '999' was launched. During the 50s and 60s, Singapore was rocked by riots and the Riot Squad was formed to tackle racial, political and labour unrests.
Police Radio Division at Eu Tong Sen Road
Singapore's Road To Nation Building
The Force underwent yet more changes as Singapore gained self-governance from 1959-1963. After breaking away from the merger with Malaysia in 1965, Singapore eventually attained independence in 1965. The crests of the Force mirrored the political changes it was renamed the Polis Repablik Singapura (Republic of Singapore Police).
Changes in the Police crest over the years from 1800s till today
Partnering The Community To Fight Crime
Community policing - fighting crime by involving the community - became a key strategy. The Neighbourhood Watch Scheme was implemented in 1981, followed by the ubiquitous Neighbourhood Police Posts (NPPs) inspired by the Japanese Koban-style of policing in 1983. Coastal and maritime security, intelligence, technocrime investigations and other operational capabilities were also significantly enhanced.
Toa Payoh Neighbourhood Police Post in the 1980s
A Force For The Nation
Today, the SPF is an efficient and well-equipped body of professionals in pursuit of continuous improvement and world-class excellence. The Force is critical in maintaining the reputation of Singapore as a safe city with one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
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Last Updated on 21 April 2016