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Singapore Prison Service spells out ‘prisons without guards’ concept


The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) on Thursday (Apr 13) detailed how it is embarking on its “prisons without guards” concept, with technology playing a prominent role.

To build a future-ready correctional service, SPS said it is using technology to enhance operational effectiveness and automate work processes, thereby freeing officers from guard duties to perform “higher-order jobs”. There will also be greater use of data analytics to deliver differentiated rehabilitation according to the risks and needs of inmates, it added in the press release.

For instance, in 2016, SPS upgraded the Prison Operations and Rehabilitation Systems (PORTS), the prison management system supporting officers in their daily operations. With PORTS II, the enhanced prison management system comes with improved capabilities such as a business intelligence dashboard which provides officers with one-stop access to relevant information, it said.

The latest iteration is also compatible with mobile devices, allowing officers to access inmates’ data even when they are away from their work terminals, SPS said.

This year, SPS is piloting its Digital Rehabilitation Records Management System (DRRMS), which automates the tracking of inmates’ attendance for work, counselling and programmes, according to the press release.

The system tracks attendance via a near-field communications (NFC) chip embedded in inmates’ wrist tags, which supports officers and counsellors in monitoring their rehabilitation activities and provides better analysis and understanding of their needs and progress, SPS said.

It is also piloting the use of the Millimetre Wave Body Scanner to screen and detect objects hidden under prisoners’ clothing, which reduces the agency’s reliance on physical searches and enhances security by detecting and preventing the smuggling of contraband items, it said.

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam, who was guest-of-honour at the annual SPS-SCORE Corporate Advance 2017 event on Thursday, also noted another initiative that sees inmates at Tanah Merah Prison using tablets to learn on their own, adding that there are possibilities to extend this to all prisoners in the future.

On the use of technology, Mr Shanmugam said: “That will really help our officers free up their time to do other things, and this will help with the manpower crunch.”

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