THE Home Team is raising the pay of its officers and offering better sign-on bonuses for police recruits, as part of its efforts to retain and attract the right people to keep Singapore safe and secure.

Depending on which agencies they serve in, Home Team officers will receive a raise of between 5 and 12 per cent in their wages, from this month. Aspiring police officers, meanwhile, can look forward to bigger sign-on bonuses, as the force steps up recruitment to meet the growing demand for these men and women in blue.

Non-graduates who are appointed police corporals and police sergeants from Aug 1 will receive $10,000 and $30,000 respectively, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) yesterday.

This is higher than the $10,000 given to people who signed up as police sergeants previously, while corporals did not receive the bonus in the past.

New hires appointed as sergeants in the Singapore Civil Defence Force, Singapore Prison Service and Central Narcotics Bureau will continue to receive the $10,000 sign-on bonuses.

These recruits, however, will have to serve a bond of between two and three years, depending on their ranks, said a ministry spokesman. She added that the police hope to hire 300 more officers by the end of the year.

This latest move comes after questions were raised by the Committee of Inquiry into the Dec 8 Little India riot, on whether there were enough police officers here.

Beefing up the force was also one of eight recommendations made by the committee in its report, which was released in June.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who was speaking at the Home Team National Day Observance Ceremony at New Phoenix Park, said the latest changes were the result of a salary review conducted by the ministry.

Mr Teo, who is also Home Affairs Minister, said MHA will ensure it provides "rewarding and meaningful careers... and competitive salaries that keep pace with the market, and are commensurate with the skills and demands required of our officers".

Potential recruits like 17-year-old Benedict Lim, however, say money cannot be a key motivating factor for young people who want to join the Home Team.

"If the job is interesting, I don't really care about the pay," said the student from Institute of Technical Education College Central. "I have always wanted to be a teacher, but if I'm posted to the police for national service, I may consider joining the force."

A new award to recognise Home Team officers who responded to major incidents, such as the Little India riot, was also introduced by Mr Teo yesterday.

Called the Home Team Operational Service Medal, it will be presented next month to some 180 officers who were involved in the operation to quell the Dec 8 riot, he said in his speech.

"As we celebrate National Day, we take pride in Singapore being one of the safest cities in the world," said Mr Teo.

"This has been possible only with the significant contributions of our Home Team pioneers, the continued support of and partnership with the community, and the hard work and dedication of our Home Team officers."