More needs to be done to define role of security guard
Instead of guarding the premises, security officers have been made to buy supper for residents or act as lifeguards.
How then will they be able to keep other residents and the property safe?
Making security personnel do what they are not paid to do has been the bugbear of the security industry for decades, stakeholders told The New Paper.
They said the culture of getting security officers to take up more roles beyond their scope of work needs to be eradicated.
Many of them, particularly those stationed in residential premises, have to do menial tasks such as buying supper for residents of the building they are guarding, acting as lifeguards or even as technicians.
Said Mr Raj Joshua Thomas, the president of the Security Association of Singapore (SAS): "The issue is unfair contract clauses. Security agencies have to define (their) roles, and this should be something the agencies need to come together about because it is a matter of the private contracts between the agency and the buyers."
President of the Union of Security Employees Hareenderpal Singh agreed.
He said some clients expect security officers to provide these value-added services, even though they fall outside of the officers' responsibilities.
Said Mr Singh: "This is not what they were hired to do. They were not hired to pick up the newspaper or do things like that.
"Young people don't want to join the industry because of this."
In her speech yesterday at the launch of the Security Industry Transformation Map (ITM), Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Josephine Teo, who is also Second Minister for Home Affairs and Manpower, pointed out a recent report that found job openings for security guards topping the list of all vacancies for rank-and-file workers.
Educating security buyers - a strategy outlined by the ITM - could combat this issue, according to Mr Robert Wiener, director of Prosegur Singapore, which employs about 1,400 security officers here.
He said: "Security is not picking up leaves. It is an important job and buyers should be educated about it."
Last November, Mr Wiener told TNP that 70 per cent of his company's officers do things they probably should not be doing, in addition to their standard operating procedures.
To help with this, Mr Wiener said his company selects clients carefully. Before finalising contracts, his team visits the sites to talk to clients.
This is to make sure the officers will have their welfare taken care of and the expectations of the officers are understood.
Said Mr Wiener: "If you want to have good security, you have to understand that it is a really big task, and you cannot fold in any others.
"How can they focus on their job otherwise?"
The industry leaders who TNP spoke to also applauded the ITM's commitment to outcome-based security contracts.
SAS' Mr Raj said: "If you see security contracting now, it is manpower-based because it is based on the client's perception on what they need, not based on what is really needed."