Ministry of Home Affairs
Feature | MHA

The Unseen Heroes: Civilian Crime Fighters

Think of crime investigations and you would mostly image uniformed Police officers busying around crime scenes, taking statements and gathering evidence. But in reality, solving a crime involves more than that. In this article, meet two individuals who are part of the crime-fighting family in the Home Team. Whistine Chai, a Lead Psychologist with the Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre, and Ng Zhi Yong, an Analyst with the Police Intelligence Department, will share on what makes their civilian careers fulfilling, and how they work alongside their uniformed colleagues to contribute to keeping Singapore safe and secure for all of us.

Left: Whistine Chai looks into the minds of criminals as Lead Psychologist with the Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre. She holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology from National University of Singapore and a master's degree (with Distinction) in Clinical Forensic Psychology from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London.

Right: Ng Zhi Yong looks into the study of crime patterns and makes use of data analytics to design solutions in combating online scams. Zhi Yong joined the Police Intelligence Department as an Analyst, after obtaining a First Class Honours in Sociology from the National University of Singapore.

Whistine Chai  1

Cybercrimes, particularly scam, is a worldwide concern. While the world is combating scams in various ways, I conduct research on scams from a behavioural sciences approach. I lead a team of psychologists, and together, we identify the root causes of scams in Singapore so as to weed them out. We study the behaviours of scam victims as well as perpetrators, and work closely with other Home Team colleagues, established academics and industry partners on scam prevention interventions.

Whistine Chai  2

My team does not work alone! We train and hold frequent roundtable discussion sessions with our Home Team leaders and frontline colleagues, on topics such as detecting deception, investigative interviewing and behavioural profiling of criminals. From there, we apply our research findings to support the development of crime fighting solutions and best practices in the Home Team.

Whistine Chai  3

The Home Team has provided me many growth opportunities and personal fulfillment. I am happy that my work positively impacts my colleagues and allows me to serve the wider community. Vast opportunities are also available to deepen my specialisation. I have shared my research at international conferences attended by top practitioners in the psychology arena, and engaged in discussions with global psychologists and law enforcement experts. These allow me to gain broader perspectives and useful insights that benefit the Home Team.

Ng Zhi Yong  Part 1

My interest in policing work arose from an undergraduate module on crime and deviance. It gave me an appreciation of the massive transformations in the law enforcement landscape. Five years on, experiences gained as an Intelligence Specialist and the learning opportunities availed to me have sharpened my data analytics expertise. In fact, my Specialist Diploma in Data Science from the Singapore Polytechnic was fully sponsored by the Singapore Police Force! I have had also attended numerous conferences which exposed me to some of the latest developments and best practices in this field.'

Ng Zhi Yong  Part 2

My work involves rigorous analyses of crime trends and timely data assessments for swift law enforcement. I am also involved in the inter-ministry committee that develops strategies to deter and prevent online scams. Beyond Singapore, I have been invited to speak at various global forums, like the Interpol Cybercrime Directors' Workshop, about technological developments' impact on the criminal landscape. These were valuable opportunities for me to share and learn from like-minded security experts.

Ng Zhi Yong  Part 3

While the fight against scams seem mammoth at times, it is heartening to be reminded that I am part of a close-knitted crime-fighting family. I am lucky to have supervisors and colleagues in the Home Team, who deeply believe in the value of our work and share the same commitment in ensuring that Singapore remains a safe home for all.