1946 - 1959

Restoring order in the aftermath of war

Restoring Order


The British Military Administration took charge of Singapore until 1 April 1946 when the Straits Settlements was dissolved and Singapore became a crown colony. Under this new administration, the police in Singapore was renamed the Singapore Police Force (SPF) in 1945 and headed by Colonel R. E. Foulger. The police faced a state of mayhem as secret societies flourished with a vengeance, even extending their influence into politics and government circles, after being clamped down by the Japanese. Meanwhile, communists were instigating strikes to sabotage the British government by undermining confidence in public order in their bid for political dominance. This led to the declaration of a 12-year long Emergency in Malaya in 1948, and a series of protests by unions and Chinese schools in the 1950s till the 1960s.


Colonel Foulger addressing members of the Straits Settlements Police Force in 1945. Source: SPF


Police at the scene of the Hock Lee bus riots, 1955. © SPH

To augment the police staff strength depleted by the Occupation, the Volunteer Special Constabulary, Gurkha Contingent, and Riot Squad established in 1946, 1949, and 1952 respectively provided assistance during the 1950s’ riots. The first Women Police Unit within the Special Constabulary was formed in 1949. A breakthrough for the post-war police was the launch of the emergency hotline ‘999’ in 1948, following the success in salvaging radio equipment left by the Japanese thereby creating the Radio Division. This enabled the police to respond faster to the scene and drastically reduced crimes like armed robberies.


The first police patrol car from the 1940s vs now. Radio patrol cars were first introduced in the late 1940s, together with the ‘999’ hotline. It drastically enhanced the Police’s ability to provide timely response to crimes. Source: SPF