The Home Team wants to recruit 2,100 officers this year, and it is dangling fresh carrots to meet this target.

The bait includes better starting salaries, a new sign-on bonus and better retention payouts to keep hold of those already in service.

Diploma holders who have served national service (NS) will now be paid up to $2,370 for a start, while those without NS will receive $2,140 - a 5per cent increase which took effect last month.

Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran announced all this yesterday at a Home Awards and Degree Sponsorship presentation event at Ngee Ann City's Civic Plaza.

For those already working in these uniformed organisations, new initiatives are being introduced to retain them.

From July onwards, the salary increment of junior officers will move away from a system of fixed annual increments to one that is merit-based. This will mean an expected 10 to 15per cent more for officers each year.

And officers who have been in the job for between three and five years will receive their first retention payout, after which they may receive more up until their 13th year of service.

By that time, they would have received a total of $34,000 to $50,000 worth of retention payouts.

The improved benefits will hopefully attract people to join the force; Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean had announced new plans for the uniformed organisations in Parliament two weeks ago.

Among them, the ministry wants to deploy more police officers into communities, shore up the Singapore Civil Defence Force's new marine fire-fighting and rescue capabilities, and enhance the supervision and after-care of drug offenders and inmates.

It also needs more officers at the various checkpoints to ensure the security of Singapore's borders.

Mr Iswaran said the Home Team 'faces a constantly evolving operating environment', where newer challenges such as transnational crime, commercial crime and cyber crime have emerged.

One of the ways to stay ahead is to invest in its people, he said.

Mr Hri Kumar Nair, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Law and Home Affairs, welcomed the new initiatives.

'These new initiatives show that the Home Team is stepping up to the competition, and is aware that others in the private, public and even international sector are also competing for Singaporean talent.'

Mr Iswaran also presented awards to 138 recipients yesterday - beneficiaries of the Home Team's monetary sponsorships for students and its officers.

It was also the first time the Home Team Career Fair was being held with the award ceremony.

The Career Fair continues today, from 10am to 9pm.