ONE in every four police officers a woman - that is the recruitment target of the force, said Deputy Commissioner T. Raja Kumar yesterday.
The ratio of female-to-male officers has been rising "slowly but surely", said Mr Raja Kumar, speaking at the Youth@SPF Seminar, held concurrently with the Police Workplan Seminar.
These women officers currently comprise about 16 per cent of the force, but many of them have already been breaking new ground over the years.
"The deputy director of CID (the Criminal Investigation Department), which in the past was a male bastion, is now a female officer," said Mr Raja Kumar. "She has broken new ground in an area that has always been regarded as a very macho place."
He also noted that the highest ranking woman officer today is the equivalent of a one-star general in the armed forces. Mr Raja Kumar was referring to the Police Training Command commander, Senior Assistant Commissioner (SAC) Zuraidah Abdullah.
"We actually think that 16 per cent is way too low, and I am very keen to, in the short term, bring this up to 25 per cent for a start," he said.
The Deputy Commissioner, however, added that while women officers equalled the men in nearly every way, some roles in the force, such as in the elite Special Tactics and Rescue (Star) unit, may be physically more challenging for women.
Whatever the case, standards will not be lowered, but women officers who meet them will not face barriers, he said.
Manpower issues were a hot topic at the annual panel discussions, with another question raised being whether the police will one day recruit foreigners.
The police manpower director, SAC Tan Hung Hooi, said the force already hires foreigners, but these recruits will have to become Singapore permanent residents before they can don the blue uniform.
SAC Lau Peet Meng, who is director of operations, said that it was important for the force to have diversity, or risk losing touch with the community, as the "force polices not just Singaporeans, but also foreigners here".
"You can't police people you don't understand," SAC Lau added.