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Comparitive Policing Essay, Research Paper

Police and Government Module 602

Comparative Policing Models

Singapore

Singapore is a country located in South-East Asia, it is an island between Malaysia and Indonesia with a population of approximately 3,490,356. There are four official languages used in Singapore, these being Chinese, Malay, Tamil and English. Singapore is a Republic within the Commonwealth and gained its independence from Malaysia on the 9th of August 1965. It is a modern democracy with a unicameral parliament, having a president as the head of state.

The government holds both an Executive and Legislative branch. The Executive branch consist of a chief of state: President ONG Teng Cheong (since 1 September 1993), head of government: Prime Minister GOH Chok Tong and Deputy Prime Ministers LEE Hsien Loong and Tony TAN Keng Yam. The President appoints the Cabinet, they are responsible to the Parliament. Elections for president are by popular vote and office is held for a six-year term. Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed Prime Minister by the President so to are the deputy Prime Ministers. The Legislative branch is a unicameral Parliament for which members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms. There are five major political parties in Singapore, however, the Peoples Action Party (PAP) have been in power since Singapore s independence. No other parties have yet won an election in Singapore. A number of strategies involving the civil legal processes (bankruptcy and libel) have been used to ensure that the opposition parties have remained ineffective.

The Country s Police force has come a long way since its foundation in 1819. The Singapore Police Force (SPF) can be compared to a State Police service within Australia, the total strength of the SPF is around 7,000 personnel. Policing in Singapore is based on the support and trust of the public as the heart of the SPF is its community Policing role. It relies on the high number of Police posts scattered throughout the residential community to provide basic police services. The trust and confidence of the public in the SPF has built up over recent years and the SPF has developed a strong relationship with each individual community. Police powers and the individual officer’s right to exercise discretion have allowed officers to make decisions in the public and organisational interest. Although there are some remnants of a para military Police force such as a rank structure, allowing the individual officer to exercise police powers within the specification of the law without seeking authorisation from his/her superior officer is a necessary foundation for successful empowerment.

The organisation of the SPF is separated into the following categories:

+ Airport Police

+ Criminal investigations Department

+ Divisional HQ s

+ Gurkha Contingent

+ Manpower Department

+ National Police Cadet Corps

+ Planning and Organisational Department

+ Police Coast Guard

+ Police National Service Department

+ Public Affairs Department

+ Service Development & Inspectorate Department

+ Special Operations Department

+ Special Projects

+ Traffic Police

+ Training Command

+ Volunteer Special Constabulary

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) would be the closest agency within the SPF that is similar to the Australian Federal Police (AFP). It is the premier investigation agency in the Singapore Police Force, its primary area of responsibility is major and complex cases that require special expertise. CID was reorganised along a team concept much like the AFP s new structure. The CID are separated into the:

+ Major Crime Division, comprising of the Special Investigation Section and Organised Crime Branch;

+ Specialised Crime Division, comprising of the Secret Societies Branch, Gambling Suppression Branch, Anti-Vice Branch; and

+ Commercial Crime Division involving the Major Fraud Branch, Financial Fraud Branch, General Fraud Branch and Computer Crime Branch.

Apart from the CID there are two other law enforcement organisations in Singapore that have close ties with the AFP. (CNB) Central Narcotics Bureau deals with all aspects of narcotics investigation. (CAD) Commercial Affairs Department has a role similar to the Australian Securities Independent Commission (ASIC). The primary role of the CAD is the investigation of money laundering offences.

It is essential for the AFP to maintain a strong relationship with Singapore as it is known to be the central transit point for narcotic goods produced in the area known as the golden triangle, destined for markets within United States, Western Europe, Australia and Third World Word Countries. Furthermore, Singapore s organised crime syndicates are also known for their money laundering operations. Keeping strong ties with the law enforcement agencies in Singapore will enhance operations against organised crime within Australia. A number of successful operations have been conducted over the years in conjunction with the SPF. Strong links have existed between the AFP and law enforcement agencies in Singapore for many years. In 1985 an AFP liaison post was established in Singapore. Over the years law enforcement agencies in Singapore have attended training programs in Australia such as the Management of Serious Crimes (MOSC) held at Barton collage ACT.

Singapore s legal system is based on English common law, it has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction. Judges are appointed to the judicial system of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals by the president. Whilst the legal system is based on English common law and is similar to Australia s legal system there are a considerable number of deviations that surround the admittance of evidence into our country. For example the right of silence, if a suspect/defendant chooses to remain silent and not offer a defence or answer questions, it is the prerogative of the court to take adverse notice of the defendant s failure to respond. The police also have the right to demand the presence of the suspect at the police station to answer questions in relation to criminal matters. The police have the right to demand the production of documents without warrant. Under the provisions of Singapore s Criminal Law (temporary provisions) Legislation, a person suspected of being involved in organised crime or narcotics related activities can be detained without trial for a period of one year. The relevant Minister following the examination of the brief of evidence orders the detention. The order is reviewed annually and can be renewed. The judiciary in Singapore tends to be less independent than the Australian courts. It tends to follow the governments direction more closely, particularly in the area of sentencing.

The only formal arrangement between Australian and Singapore is an extradition agreement under the London Scheme (Commonwealth Countries). There is no mutual assistance agreement, each application for formal assistance is treated on its individual merits. A major stumbling block to such agreements is the mandatory death penalty for narcotic offences, murder and other offences involving the use of firearms.

In conclusion there is a demonstrated need for the AFP and the Singaporean law enforcement agencies to maintain close links in the fight against crime, especially with the influx of organised crime into Australian Territories.

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