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A Closer Look: Policing In The Digital Age

Discover how Assistant Watch Officers utilise PolCam to keep Singapore safe.
A PolCam installed at a HDB block.

A PolCam installed at a HDB block.

Discover how Assistant Watch Officers utilise PolCam to keep Singapore safe.




The Police Operations Command Centre (POCC) of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) plays an essential role in maintaining continuous frontline police operations throughout the nation. Central to its success is the sophisticated Police Camera (PolCam) system, which is crucial for real-time crime management and for elevating operational insight as revealed in this SPF Police Life Magazine article.

Since the first installation in April 2012, PolCam has been instrumental in solving over 7,500 crime cases, contributing to safer neighbourhoods across Singapore. With more than 90,000 installed across the island’s public spaces, PolCam not only bolsters the POCC’s capabilities in managing incidents as they occur, but also heightens situational awareness.

The POCC can use PolCam footage to identify subjects near the vicinity of a reported crime, and then share this information with officers on the ground.

Looking ahead, the SPF plans to expand PolCam coverage across more locations island-wide, such as commercial, entertainment, and recreational areas with high footfall and crowd congregation, as well as other common areas in residential estates. Over 200,000 PolCam will be deployed by mid-2030s to enhance public safety and security and aid in Police’s investigations.


The success of the POCC is closely linked to the commitment of full-time Police National Service officers, particularly the Assistant Watch Officers (AWOs). These attentive officers function as the SPF’s eyes and ears, diligently overseeing the PolCam system.

SC/Sgt Abdul Raafiq is a senior AWO who joined the POCC in January 2022. That year, he received the Commissioner of Police’s Team Commendation Award for assisting to solve a case of robbery. PHOTO: Soh Ying Jie

Special Constable Sergeant (SC/Sgt) Abdul Raafiq, who serves as an AWO, explains their critical role: “We use PolCam to conduct ‘virtual patrolling’ by trawling through live footage to search for any suspicious activities, persons, or commotion. If we spot something concerning, we’ll alert our Watch Officers to dispatch officers to the location.”

In addition to their surveillance duties, AWOs handle other critical responsibilities “We also manage calls on the Police Hotline (1800-255-0000) and generate reports from 995 calls to the Singapore Civil Defence Force when police intervention is needed, like in traffic accidents,” shares SC/Sgt Raafiq.


AWOs undergo a comprehensive training programme encompassing theoretical lessons and practical sessions. SC/Sgt Raafiq elaborates on their training journey, “We start with several weeks of theory lessons and training conducted by our Training Officer. This deep dive covers the PolCam system, its capabilities, and all relevant Police procedures.”

Following their theoretical training, AWOs engage in a week-long intensive field training under the mentorship of experienced AWOs. This phase allows them to apply their learned knowledge to real-life scenarios, preparing them to work independently, while still receiving support and guidance from their seniors.


Beyond monitoring through PolCam, AWOs leverage video analytics to aid police operations. “This helps to expedite the search for missing persons or suspects,” explains Special Constable Corporal (SC/Cpl) Bryan Lam.

SC/Cpl Bryan Lam joined the POCC in April 2022. He received the POCC Commander’s Team Commendation Award for helping to identify and track a suspect in an outrage of modesty case. PHOTO: Soh Ying Jie

AWOs like SC/Cpl Lam find their role both challenging and rewarding. “Serving as an AWO in the POCC has been an eye-opening and fulfilling National Service experience,” he says. “By tapping on the PolCam system, we can better support our officers on the ground and better contribute to the safety of the community.”

As senior AWOs, SC/Cpl Bryan and SC/Sgt Raafiq are glad to play their part at the POCC. PHOTO: Soh Ying Jie

SC/Sgt Raafiq reflects on the unique aspects of being an AWO. “We work in a high-tempo environment 24/7 to ensure the safety and security of Singapore,” he says, adding that the role has helped him develop his patience, attention to detail, and mental resilience. “Most importantly, witnessing the impact of our work has instilled in me a deep sense of purpose!”

To thank our Home Team Officers for their contributions to the safety and security of Singapore and Singaporeans, eligible Home Team officers, national servicemen, and those serving in the Volunteer Special Constabulary (VSC) and Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit (CDAU), will be given a complimentary one-year HomeTeamNS membership from mid-March 2024. They can also sign their family members up for a complimentary one-year family membership, for them to enjoy the same perks and benefits. Click here and here for details.

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15th March 2024
12:21 PM

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