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Train, bus commuters could be subject to frisk searches

Train, bus commuters could be subject to frisk searches

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 06 Apr 2021
Author: Kok Yufeng

The Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill will amend the Road Traffic Act and the Rapid Transit Systems Act to give police officers and authorised personnel broader powers to screen and search commuters; Bill will be debated at the next Parliament sitting.

Commuters taking the bus or train here could be subject to frisk searches by police officers and other "senior approved persons" under proposed laws introduced in Parliament yesterday.

Under the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, a "frisk search" refers to a search conducted by quickly running one's hands over an individual's outer clothing.

The Bill will amend the Road Traffic Act and the Rapid Transit Systems Act to give police officers and authorised personnel broader powers to screen and search commuters. Current laws allow for searches only for bags or other items carried by commuters.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said the amendments will allow security checks to be carried out at designated entrances of bus interchanges, before fare gates at MRT and LRT stations, or any parts of these transport nodes. If necessary, checks can be carried out on board buses and trains.

The public transport system can be an attractive target for security threats due to its vulnerability and the potential for mass casualties, the LTA said.

"There is a need to step up our existing security measures to stay vigilant against any potential security attacks," it added.

Under the proposed laws, these security checks include having to walk through a metal detector and pass belongings through an X-ray machine and allow them to be inspected, as well as having to remove garments such as jackets, gloves, shoes or hats.

The checks can be conducted by police officers, whether or not they are in uniform, and "approved persons" who include bus or rail workers.

These approved people must be authorised by the LTA in writing to exercise any power under the proposed laws at a specific bus, train, bus interchange or train station.

Only police officers or "senior approved persons" will be given powers to conduct frisk searches and use handheld scanners to screen commuters.

These senior personnel are auxiliary police officers in uniform, security officers engaged by bus or rail operators and outsourced enforcement officers appointed by the LTA.

Those who refuse to be screened may be asked to leave the bus, train, interchange or station.

Refusing or failing to comply with requests or orders made by a police officer or an approved person without a reasonable excuse would be an offence that carries a fine of up to $1,000.

The Bill will be debated at the next Parliament sitting.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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