Our Heritage

Our Beginning

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) was formed in 1820, making it one of the oldest government organisations in Singapore. Mr Francis James Bernard was the police assistant overseeing a small unit comprising only a sergeant, a writer, a jailer, and eight constables. The lean Force was strengthened in 1826 when the Singapore Police, together with Malacca and Penang, was incorporated into the Straits Settlements Police. However, lawlessness was still the order of the day for the growing colony.


Officers decked out in their full gear of a songkok, a long-sleeved serge coat, trousers, shin guards and black shoes in 1890

The Turn Of The Century

The early 1900s was a period of rapid transformation for the SPF.  The Force’s crime-fighting capabilities were improved with the introduction of a criminal registry, fingerprint system, and setting up of a Police Headquarters at South Bridge Road. The Force also expanded to about 2,000 strong and established the Marine Branch, Traffic Branch, Police Force Training Depot and Communications Branch. These efforts made Singapore a more peaceful and safe place than in the late 1800s.

Police Headquarters at South Bridge Road, 1905 - 1954

To augment the regular Force after the Second World War, the Police formed the Volunteer Special Constabulary in 1946. In 1948, the SPF established the Radio Division at Eu Tong Sen Street and launched the police emergency hotline '999’. During the 1950s and 1960s, Singapore was rocked by riots and the Reserve Unit 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 further changes as Singapore gained self-governance from 1959-1963. After breaking away from merger with Malaysia in 1965, Singapore attained its independence. The crests of the Force mirrored the political changes and 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

Since the 1980s, community policing - fighting crime by involving the community – has been a key strategy of the SPF. 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 29 September 2017