One in three security officers have experienced abuse at work: Survey

This article is more than 12 months old

Findings also show the older the officer is, the more likely he is to be mistreated, most commonly by the general public

One in three security officers recently surveyed said they have experienced physical or verbal abuse or both in their course of work, with verbal abuse the most common.

Also, the older a security officer, the more likely he is to be abused, the survey found.

The survey - the first public one of its kind - is a collaboration between the Union of Security Employees (USE) and the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) to study the working conditions, well-being and salary issues of security officers.

A total of 707 security officers were interviewed in January and February.

USE, an affiliate of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), has about 14,800 members.

The survey followed several incidents of abuse and harassment of security officers last year.

USE executive secretary Steve Tan said the union has been tracking anecdotal feedback on abuse of security officers, and decided to collaborate with SUSS to find out the "real level" of abuse through an empirical study.

The findings were presented yesterday by Associate Professor Leong Chan-Hoong from the SUSS Centre for Applied Research during a virtual media briefing.

He revealed that while 32 per cent of security officers said they have experienced verbal or physical abuse, age plays a factor.

Among security officers aged 29 and younger, only 15 per cent said they have experienced abuse.

However, this went up to 39 per cent among security officers aged 70 and above - the highest percentage among all the age groups.

Security Association Singapore president Raj Joshua Thomas said this may be because the public sees older officers as "easier victims to intimidate to try to get their way".

Security officers said verbal abuse was the most common, followed by both physical and verbal abuse, then physical abuse.

They said the most common source of abuse is from the general public, followed by residents and contractors.

Mr Patrick Tay, assistant secretary-general of NTUC, said he was shocked by the survey findings.

He said the labour movement has been calling for more protection under the law for security officers, regardless of where they work.

In March, the Ministry of Home Affairs said it was looking to amend the Private Security Industry Act next year, to better protect security officers from harassment or abuse.

The survey also found that the median basic pay of security officers has increased by $120 to $1,420 a month, compared with two years ago.

The median basic pay excludes overtime wages and allowances.

Under the Progressive Wage Model (PWM), the lowest-ranking security officer must be paid a basic wage of at least $1,250 this year, while the next ranking of senior security officer must be paid $1,420.

The highest-ranking security officer, or a senior security supervisor, must be paid at least $1,820.

The PWM came into effect in September 2016, and is a licensing requirement for all security agencies.

The survey also found that about a quarter of security officers' average monthly take-home pay of $1,975 after Central Provident Fund deductions comes from overtime wages.