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Singapore Prison Service

The Singapore Prison Service (Malay: Perkhidmatan Penjara Singapura; Chinese: 新加坡监狱署) is a government agency of the Government of Singapore under the hierarchy of the Ministry of Home Affairs. It runs 14 prisons and drug rehabilitation centres in Singapore. Its responsibilities encompass the safe custody, rehabilitation and aftercare of offenders, and preventive education.

Singapore Prison Service
Perkhidmatan Penjara Singapura
Singapore Prison Service logo.jpg
Logo of the Singapore Prison Service
Agency overview
TypeCorrectional Agency
JurisdictionGovernment of Singapore
Headquarters407 Upper Changi Road North, Singapore 507658
Minister responsible
Deputy Ministers responsible
  • Josephine Teo, 2nd Minister for Home Affairs
  • Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary
  • Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary
Agency executives
  • Desmond Chin Kim Tham [1], Commissioner of Prisons
  • Shie Yong Lee, Deputy Commissioner of Prisons (Policy and Transformation)
  • Goh Leng Chuang Terrence, Deputy Commissioner of Prisons (Operations and Rehabilitation)
Parent agencyMinistry of Home Affairs
Child agency


1800 – 1899Edit

On 18 April 1825, the first batch of penal convicts arrived in Singapore and were housed in temporary huts along Bras Basah Canal. The philosophy of deterrence through punitive measures rather than rehabilitation was adopted. In 1847, a civil jail was built at Pearl's Hill but overcrowding remained a perennial problem and a continued punitive approach in prison management led to a high rate of recidivism.[citation needed]

1900 – 1999Edit

Changi Prison, a maximum security prison, was built and operationalised in 1936 as a training ground for the reform and rehabilitation of its inmates.[citation needed] The Singapore Prison Service was institutionalised as a Department in 1946 and G.E.W.W. Bayly became its first Commissioner. On 1 November 1973, Quek Shi Lei was appointed Director of Prisons.

The Ministry of Home Affairs set up a Prisons Re-Organisation Committee to review the system of rehabilitation, industrial training and work discipline. A new system of classification was then adopted in which inmates were grouped into 16 classes under three broad categories.

On 1 January 1988, Tee Tua Ba took over as Director of Prisons, while Quek Shi Lei acted as an advisor to Singapore Prison Service and became CEO of the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE).

When Tee Tua Ba was posted to the Singapore Police Force (SPF) as Commissioner of Police on 1 July 1992, Poh Geok Ek took over the Directorship of Singapore Prison Service until 1 November 1998.

Another milestone in Singapore Prison Service’s history was the official opening of Tanah Merah Prison and Changi Women’s Prison/Drug Rehabilitation Centre on 23 April 1994 by Minister for Home Affairs Wong Kan Seng.

In 1998, Chua Chin Kiat took over as Director of Singapore Prison Service from Poh Geok Ek when the latter retired. Under Chua’s directorship, the Singapore Prison Service organised a visioning exercise in January 1999 to collectively craft a shared vision and conduct a review of its mission to better accommodate the changing needs and expectations of its stakeholders and the public.

On 31 December 1999, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the redevelopment of Changi Prison Complex, Minister for Home Affairs Wong Kan Seng unveiled the new vision and revised mission together with the “Captain of Lives” tagline.

2000 – PresentEdit

On 3 January 2000, Kaki Bukit Centre was established as a prison school for inmates’ education and skills learning. Teaching resources were centralised and more inmates were able to pursue further education.

Changi Prison's main building (built 2000)

Presently, the new Changi Prison or the Changi Prison Complex houses the most serious criminal offenders in the country, including criminal offenders who are serving long sentences and those who have been sentenced to death. Changi Prison Complex serves as the detention site for death row inmates at Changi, before they are executed by hanging, traditionally on a Friday morning. It is also one of the main places (though not the only one) where judicial corporal punishment by caning is carried out. Caning sessions at Changi are held twice per week. A former employee of the prison was quoted in 1995 as saying: "They are flogging more and more these days. Before they were doing maybe 60 on Tuesdays and Fridays, now they're doing a hundred".[3]

The Yellow Ribbon Project was also launched in October 2004 to raise public awareness and acceptance of the community towards ex-offenders, so as to garner community support for inmates’ re-integration into society.

On 1 November 2007, Ng Joo Hee took over office from Chua Chin Kiat, the latter moving on to become the executive director or AETOS Security Management. In the same year, Selarang Park Prison/DRC was also transformed to a community supervision centre to manage inmates emplaced on community based programmes and released on supervision.

After two years as Director of Prisons, Ng Joo Hee moved on to become the Commissioner of Police. On 1 January 2010, Soh Wai Wah took over office and is the current Director of Prisons. Soh oversaw the official opening of a new prison cluster in Changi Prison Complex - Cluster B, on 20 January 2010.


The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) is a uniformed organisation under the hierarchy of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Its responsibilities encompass the safe custody, rehabilitation and aftercare of offenders, and preventive education. SPS is made up of uniformed officers as well as civilian staff, including psychologists and counsellors

Organisation StructureEdit

SPS currently administers 14 institutions. They make up SPS’s line units and are grouped under four clusters – Cluster A and B which are within the Changi Prison Complex (CPC), Cluster C which includes the Prisons School, and Operations and Security Command (OSC).

SPS has seven staff divisions - Operations, Staff Development, Corporate Services, Rehabilitation & Reintegration, Strategic Planning & Research, Intelligence, and Psychological & Correctional Rehabilitation Division (PCRD) – that comprise 29 staff units; as well as three standalone units, namely, Corporate Communications & Relations, Provost, and Staff Inspectorate.

Department / Division Director / Commander
Corporate Communications & Relations Division AC Kong Ling Chieh Titus
Operations Division SAC Koh Tong Hai
Staff Development Division Ms Cecilia Chew Li-Hwa
Rehabilitation & Reintegration Division SAC Lee Kwai Sem
Logistics & Finance Division SAC Chiew Honk Meng
Intelligence Division SAC Chew Chwee Leong Vincent
Strategic Planning Division DAC Foo Ee Lin
Psychological and Correctional Rehabilitation Division Leo Hee Sun Timothy
Transformation & Technology Division DAC Loh Teck En
Inspectorate and Review Division SUPT Kan Hsueh Yee Carolyn
Provost Division SUPT Lam Mong Teng
Cluster A Management Office DAC Lim Ai Lian Caroline
Cluster B Management Office AC Chia Jin Ming Benjamin
Cluster C Management Office DAC Tan Eng Keong
Community Corrections Command AC Rockey Francisco Junior
Operations and Security Command DAC Soh Beng Koon

Related InitiativesEdit

CARE NetworkEdit

The Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-Offenders (CARE) Network was formed in May 2000 to coordinate and to improve the effectiveness of various agencies engaging in rehabilitative works for ex-offenders in Singapore.

The CARE Network is the first formal structure that brings together key community and government agencies to promote seamless in-care to aftercare support for ex-offenders. The Network consists of 8 major community and government organisations responsible for the rehabilitation of ex-offenders.


  • To improve the quality of rehabilitative services through knowledge-sharing
  • To build awareness and understanding of the rehabilitative process amongst the general public
  • To increase efficiency by reducing duplication of work and services between member agencies
  • To create a seamless transfer for offenders from in-care to aftercare
  • To mobilise and facilitate the community to take action toward rendering appropriate support services to help ex-offenders and their families reintegrate into the society[citation needed]

The CARE Network has several initiatives to help ex-offenders reintegrate into society, including rehabilitative and aftercare programmes. It has developed several aftercare initiatives which include:

a. Yellow Ribbon Project

Launched in 2004 as one of the CARE Network's key initiatives, the Yellow Ribbon Project seeks to engage the community in accepting ex-offenders and their families.[citation needed]

b. Case Management Framework

The Case Management Framework was initiated in March 2001 to ensure continuity in an inmate’s rehabilitative process before and after he is released.

The service involves:

  • Assessing an inmate’s individual needs
  • Identifying appropriate services that meet his needs
  • Developing a comprehensive plan of service tailored to the individual
  • Advocating the client’s access to and use of services
  • Monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of delivery of services

The service is delivered by full-time Aftercare Case Managers (ACMs) from the Singapore After-Care Association (SACA)[4] and Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA),[5] which start to see inmates two months ahead of their release.

c. Lee Foundation Education Assistance Scheme

The scheme, launched on 27 September 2003, provides financial assistance to ex-offenders in their academic pursuits. The Foundation aims to provide opportunities for ex-offenders who are needy and would like to continue with their studies.[citation needed]

The scheme is currently administered by SACA.

d. Professionalism In The Aftercare Sector

Building the aftercare sector is necessary for raising the level of expertise to ensure that services are delivered in a professional and ethical way. In 2006, the Core Competencies of Aftercare Case Managers and the Training Roadmap was developed. The Best Practice Guidelines and Work Process System were also developed with support from the National Council of Social Service. These initiatives help aftercare professionals identify and develop core skills needed to serve the clients.

e. Prisons Halfway House Scheme

The Prisons Halfway House Scheme, which started in April 1995, allows amenable offenders of Drug Rehabilitation Centres and Prisons without strong family support to spend their last stage of their detention at the halfway houses.

To enhance the provision of transitional care to better meet the needs of offenders, the Halfway House Service Model was launched in October 2010. This new service model provides a framework to enable halfway houses to operate a consistent and dedicated programme based on stipulated service requirements. Structured and professional rehabilitation services would be provided to facilitate offenders’ reintegration into the society. Currently, there are eight halfway houses participating in Prisons Halfway House Scheme and administering the Service Model.

f. Singapore Prisons Emergency Action Response (SPEAR)

SPEAR is a specialist force that is deployed for various high-risk, special operations. SPEAR officers specialise in Close Quarters Riot Control, High-Risk Inmates’ Transportation, Close Protection, Less Lethal Weaponry, Dynamic Entry, Cell Extractions and other tactical skills.[citation needed]

Their core functions include responding to prison contingencies and exercises, performing high-risk escort duties and training prison officers in various core tactical skills.

Prison features and developmentsEdit

Inmate Self-Service Kiosk (iKiosk)Edit

The Inmate Self-Service Kiosk (iKiosk) is a Self-Service Kiosk developed and custom-built for the Singapore Prison Service by NCS. The design of the iKiosk caters for the Prison environment where special consideration is taken for safety and security. The iKiosk is tamper-proof, smooth-edged, fabricated with 17-inch tempered-glass monitor to withstand high impacts and comes with a barcode scanner to authenticate inmates’ wrist tags .

The iKiosk allows inmates to carry out non-sensitive routine administrative activities on their own. This gives them the chance to take ownership of their actions and inculcate a sense of self-responsibility. The use of the kiosks is also an opportunity for inmates to familiarise themselves with technology - which would also help them assimilate back into society upon their release.

Currently, the iKiosk allow inmates to perform self-help tasks such as:

  • Perform administrative requests such as replacement of wrist tags and report change in diet
  • Check and redeem privileges
  • Print letter forms
  • Check status of their requests and query
  • Obtain inmate-related information
  • Check availability of new courses

Prison authorities are also exploring the option of allowing inmates to type out their letters and send them electronically. This is part of the prison’s plan to move with the times and tap on technology to enhance the rehabilitation process for inmates. Inmates could also have the chance to access e-books and e-learning materials in the future.

Video teleconferencingEdit

Tele-visits via video-conferencing were introduced in 1999 for family members to maintain communication with inmates. There are currently nine tele-visit centres in located in various parts of Singapore, including the Prison Link Centres.

On 12 October 2002, the Singapore Prisons Department launched a 12-month pilot project for the world’s first internet home tele-visit facility for inmates and their families . 60 inmates and their families were selected for this project. Both the Institutions and the inmates’ home were equipped with a personal computer and video conferencing system. At a scheduled time, family members will log on to the Internet video conferencing system to tele-visit with the inmates at the Institutions.

Mobile devices (mobile PORTS or mPORTS)Edit

Mobile devices were implemented and made available to prison officers to gain a better understanding of an inmate when they visit the various institutions. Mobile tablets were introduced in 2012 to allow prison officers to retrieve inmate information while on the ground. It also allowed the officers to instantly find out more about the inmates if they are new admissions. Observations of the inmates can also be recorded on the spot when they monitor certain behavioural changes in the inmates.

New Prison HeadquartersEdit

On 10 December 2012, it was announced that a new S$118.5 million Prison Headquarters of the Changi Prison Complex will be constructed by December 2014. The project was awarded to Sembawang Engineers and Constructors (Sembawang), which is owned by the Punj Lloyd Group Company.

The new headquarters will have four buildings and several smaller ancillary buildings that will house office facilities, a multi-purpose hall, a club house and an auditorium. It will also be in closer proximity to Cluster A and Cluster B within the Changi complex.


Although the SPS officers are armed with less-than-lethal weapons such as the PR-21 side handle baton (more commonly known as the T-baton) and pepper spray while on duty, they are trained in firearms, which may be issued depending on the circumstances.

.38 Caliber Revolver- Taurus Model 85
9mm Semi-Automatic Handgun- Glock 19
Ithaca 37
Remington 870
Sub-machine guns
Heckler & Koch MP5
Assault rifles
M16 rifle

In popular cultureEdit

Fictional television programsEdit

Behind Bars (铁狱雷霆), 1991 Filmed in partnership with the Singapore Prison Service, the local Singaporean drama serial follows the lives of prison officers and the challenges they face in their line of work.

The role of prison officer, Yu Zhen Fei, is played by Chen Hanwei.

Kinship (手足), 2007 Jesseca Liu plays the character of Zheng Yusheng, the lively and optimistic female protagonist of the show. Zheng Yusheng is a prison warden who happened to be born in jail.
The Homecoming (十三鞭), 2007 Four friends convicted of arson were sentenced to imprisonment and three strokes of the cane each. The Singaporean television series was noted for briefly showing the caning scene.
On the Fringe 2011 (边缘父子), 2011 A former juvenile delinquent, Tian Yi Bang, spent most of his youth in a rehabilitation centre. Subsequently, he committed robbery and was sentenced to jail. After his release, he decided to turn over a new leaf and tries to encourage his son from going the same way as he did.

Tian Yi Bang is played by Li Nanxing.

C.L.I.F. 2 (警徽天职2), 2013 Jiang Yongzhe (Aloysius Pang), who is the son of a superintendent in a police division, joined the gang 356 in the series. He is involved in beating up a member from a rival gang and was even framed by his leader for raping his classmate. He was cleared of rape charges when his leader was arrested, but was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment for the attack. In the series, he took part in the gang renunciation ceremony where he swore not to join gangs anymore and turn in a new leaf.


One More Chance (三个好人),2005 A 2005 Singaporean film by Jack Neo about the lives of three ex-offenders facing difficulties and rejection from the community after release from prison. The movie showcased the various challenges and social stigma the ex-offenders face in their reintegration journey. The movie was produced in association with the CARE Network and premiered at the start of YRP’s 2005 campaign.
Apprentice 2016 Directed by Singaporean director Boo Junfeng, the film stars Firdaus Rahman and Wan Hanafi Su as a young prisons officer and the chief executioner of the state prisons respectively. The film touches on the controversial death penalty from an executioner's point of view. The film features a fictionalized version of the Singapore Prisons Service.

Current affairs programmesEdit

Tuesday Report (星期二特写) A pastry workshop set up in Changi Prison, by 717 Trading, was featured in MediaCorp’s long-running Chinese documentary programme, Tuesday Report on 18 September 2012. The workshop employs about 40 inmates to meet its business needs in refrigerating the flesh of the fruit as well as producing desserts with it.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "MHA announces appointment of new Commissioner of Prisons from Oct 1". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  2. ^ "Not Available". Facebook. Captains of Lives. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  3. ^ "Eye of a Tiger", The Guardian, London, 20 May 1995
  4. ^
  5. ^