Introduction and Background
Many organizations that try to change their ways of conducting their operations often fail to meet their targets for different reasons. Mental perception of the people involved in operationalizing the transformation efforts is the biggest contributor of the success or failure of these endeavors. The police force is one of the most important institutions in Singapore. Like all societies in the world, law and order is an integral part for any progressive society. Singapore is not an exception. Singapore seeks to spur its economic heights and make life better for its citizens. Unfortunately, the Singapore Police force, which is charged with maintain law, has its own challenges. The root of the problems in Singapore police force lies with how police officers perceive the police institution. There is also a significant effect on operations and efficiency of the force based on the way officers view themselves as leaders or agents of change.
Singapore police unit consists of two sets of thought schools. Some of those in leadership roles in the force hold evolutionary perspective, are organic thinkers and will accept even the most radical transformative processes. These people think from mechanistic point of view and imagine the police force as assembled and built machines. They perceive the force as searching for the proper mechanical factors and conditions to realize success. The other school of thought perceives the force as gardens. In order to achieve the objectives and ultimate goals of any organization, it is imperative to properly cultivate an empowering environment in the workplace. The police force in Singapore is not a mechanical system. A majority of the officers perceive the institution as a garden that needs to be nurtured and tended.
Empowerment is the new form of enhancing productivity in every organization across the globe in the present day. Institutions in Singapore have so far inculcated the culture of employee empowerment across most sectors with the exception of the police force. There is a widespread fear of what an excessively empowered police force could do to the country given the fundamental position the force holds in maintaining order. Common thinkers imagine the prospect of empowerment as giving the police force too much freedom at their disposure to place the security of the nation at risk. Opponents of the move to empower the police force argue that empowering the police could lead to cases such as strikes and industrial actions, a move that would be detrimental to security of the country. Others imagine empowerment as sheer lack of oppression.
Empowering the Singapore police force entails a little more than eliminating the aspect of oppression. Officers need to be given the right to form bodies within the law to bargain for their interests in decision makings that affect their workplace and conditions. They need to be involved and properly represented in ensuring policy makers do not contravene their interests and overlook their legal and social benefits. Empowerment requires that police officers are confined within boundaries that are appropriate. Un-empowered officers will be confined within boundaries that are too strict. It is imperative that the police force is restrained on their powers as a united body or workforce due to the fact that they are the bearers of the country’s weaponry. Nonetheless, the restrictions need to be practical and put into account that the police officers are people with emotional and social needs.
Empowerment of the police force in Singapore would also entail the need to track own performance records. In cases where the police force is not empowered, external authorities are in charge of tracking performance records of the force. Feedback on the force’s efficiency in handling criminal cases, maintaining peace and curbing crime comes from other authorities. Empowered police force has the mechanisms to gauge the degree of meeting its targets and work on them. An empowered police force makes officers own their work. Those who lack the capability to set their own records, strive to meet them and amend challenges that create the expectation gap do not own their work. Furthermore, a police force with empowered service men and women are proud of their work and the organization they work for. It would be detrimental for Singapore to continue having officers that are apathetic about the police force. Unless a full implementation of police empowerment is done, Singapore police officers may never own the work they do. An attitude of working for the government and the employer body is risky for the present and future of the nation. Empowerment is a new management system that every institution must have.
Singapore has an old history of police unit, almost as old as the country itself. The force has been in existence from 1819. The country’s initial 11 member force had the concept of community policing right from its onset. There was the need to maintain law and order among various communities and ethnicities due to a wide range of roles in the state. Under Sir Stamford Raffles, the self-regulated community police in conjunction with social structures took shape. Influx of Chinese in Singapore and creations of secret societies began testing the efficiency of the system. Although the societies were formed as legal entities, they began involving themselves in all sorts of illegal businesses including operation of gambling dens, monetary extortion from masses and smuggling of illegal goods into the country. These challenges in addition to other social problems instigated the need for a bigger police force. Thus the Singapore police force was formed on these foundations. The problems have become more complex and numerous given technological advancements and growing population.
Given the magnitude of challenges and complexities of the nature of work of police in Singapore today, it is significant that the officers get enabling environments for greater participation. There is a need for flexibility to meet the needs of the people they serve. The system needs to put in place advanced strategies that enable officers to respond to cases that need their attention promptly. In the face of internet technology and cybercrime, the police force needs flexible means of reaching law offenders other than the traditional physical search and frisking. There is also need to identify a variety of ideas to improve the working systems for the officers.
The real fear in dispensing comprehensive empowerment to the police force is the fear of consequences of change. Stakeholders in the service industry wield the fear that there may be irreversible negative externalities of the revolutionary change to the police force. Both the stakeholders and service men and women may purport to resist components of change such as technological changes within the force. A closer discernment of the primary fear in the opponents is the social change the empowerment may cause. Lewin’s idea of weakening resisting forces is the best to apply to these resistive forces. The implementers of the police reforms identify the social consequences of the proposed change in the first phase (tootling, educating, unfreezing and developing positive perception). They then develop solutions for the problems at this stage to avoid later resistance.
Is it feasible to achieve police empowerment in Singapore?
Aim & Objectives
The aim of this research is to identify, analyze and provide the rationale of achieving comprehensive police force empowerment in Singapore.
The main objectives of this survey are to:
- Identify the benefits of police empowerment as perceived by the public, stakeholders in the police force and police officers of all ranks
There are six division headquarters that support 36 Neighborhood Police Centers (NPC) in Singapore Police Force (SPF). They sum up to about 54,000 Frontline Officers. The target population was police officers across all ranks of the Singapore police force. The officers included an assortment of inspectors, Senior Station Inspectors (SSI), Station Inspectors (SIs), Senior Staff Sergeants (SSSs), Staff Sergeants (SSs), corporals and Special Constables (SCs). The survey was conducted using a sample of 89 individuals. A mock-up of at least 3 officers from each of the 36 regions was selected indiscriminately to diminish subjective bias. In a civilization where internet convenience is the most suitable methods of sending and receiving replies, Singapore Police Force has offered all its officers from the rank of Special Constables to Inspectors with a job email for easiest communiqué and rejoinder, hence the respondents send their responses by means of these work emails to the surveyor’s main email. Random sampling was adopted. The model surveys were chosen from the electronic mail list that can be obtained from each police force division e-mail list that is readily obtainable to all other police officers with an entrée to the police interior intranet system.
Castillo noted that indiscriminate sampling is more often than not used in tentative investigation in order for the investigator to acquire a realistic ballpark figure of the results. This possibility option is commonly employed in the itinerary of the preliminary investigation to engender a general appraisal of the outcomes, without paying for any expenses in addition to saving the amount of time needed to pick out an unsystematic sample. One week after contact was made, a follow-up email was sent. A second email to the police was sent to non-respondents and other officers in an attempt to augment the targeted numbers for scrutiny. It lasted roughly one month. Incessant use of the same procedure ensured the dependability of the data.
Prior to the mass investigation, an introductory electronic mail was sent to the sample group from the investigator. The initial email introduced the subject matter under investigation. It provided a brief need for the investigation and a list of the benefits that accrued to the officers in the event the investigations would yield the desired outcomes. The structure, length and content of the first mail put into consideration the fact that officers could be bored and ignore long, boring explanations. It was concise and straight to the point, allowing easy read and avoiding fatigue. Upon delivering the message, a follow-up phone call was made to the officers to find out if any of them needed help in filling the form that soon followed.
In the study, the investigator proposed questionnaires that would measure the attitudes and opinions of the officers in an attempt to answer the objectives of the research. The research cut across all the features of empowerment such as cooperation, permitted and unpermitted mandate, resources and knowledge in order to determine the level of empowerment. It considered views from all aspects of police reforms to provide definite and viable evaluation of the situation. Further, questionnaires are approved, reliable and valid tools of investigation.
An analytical dimension facet of empowerment and the impetus of the police department found out that content, convergent soundness and criterion-related were well spelt out. The measured subject’s closeness, to the anticipated measurement, is measured by validity. If an official believes that other officers are doing the same obligation and are paid almost the same, then it indicated that the other police officer will be satisfied with his or her job.
Ethics of the Survey
Under the Codes of Ethic and Ethical Principles for Conducting Research with Human Participants, discretion and secrecy must be protected. It is imperative that the researcher notify all participants of the objectives of the survey. By doing so, the partakers were made conscious of the facet of the study in order to exercise rational decision to participate but at the same time, the participants were made alert that he or she could pull out of the study at any time. It was the investigator's prime responsibility to take realistic precautions to guard confidential information collected and stored in any medium, and to shield participants from corporeal and psychosomatic harm during the exploration.
Results of the Survey
Officers included an assortment of inspectors, Senior Station Inspectors (SSI), Station Inspectors (SIs), Senior Staff Sergeants (SSSs), Staff Sergeants (SSs), corporals and Special Constables (SCs). The survey was conducted among 89 individuals. The table below shows the results of the survey
Total survey email out: 105
No of respondent reply: 89
A critical look at the results table shows that no pair of the variables yields a correlation of more than 0.5. This means the correlation obtained was not strong enough to attach any connection between any pair of the variables.
A significance test was carried out on the above correlation results to certify that the results were not obtained by chance. A mutually exclusive hypothesis test was conducted by first determining the significance level.
The analysis took significance level of alpha to be 0.05
The test was two-tailed since there is no prior strong evidence backing the reliability of the test. With rd, significance level and knowledge that the analysis is two-tailed, a significance of the correlation could be tested.
Correlation significance = -0.428. A correlation significance of less than /0.5/ shows that there are high possibilities that the figures obtained from the research could be coincidental. The analysis of these empirical results cast a shadow of doubt on the reliability of the statistics obtained.
According to the results, there may be no strong relation between the rank of the officer and the urge to have reforms in the police force in Singapore. There is little or no relation between these variables. The number of police officers who strongly agree, mildly agree, strongly oppose or weakly oppose the empowerment prospects has nothing to do with their ranks. However, a look at the correlation significance, there is slight relation between the high ranking officials and declining to the changes proposed.
The high ranking officials have a probability of 0.501 of declining and totally disagreeing with the reforms compared to 0.467 for the lower ranking officials. This could be explained by Lewin’s Theory. A closer discernment of the primary fear in the opponents is the social change the empowerment may cause. Lewin’s idea of weakening resisting forces is the best to apply to these resistive forces. Inspectors and Senior Station Inspectors are more adamant to police empowerment than constables and special constables.
There is a need for flexibility to meet the needs of the people they serve. The system needs to put in place advanced strategies that enable officers to respond to cases that need their attention promptly. In the face of internet technology and cybercrime, the police force needs flexible means of reaching law offenders other than the traditional physical search and frisking. There is also need to identify a variety of ideas to improve the working systems for the officers.
Dew, John R. Empowerment and Democracy in the Workplace. Cheng San, June 09, 2009.
SIngapore Police Force Press. Singerpore Police Department Empowerment. Chong Boon,
June 21, 2011.