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No Glitches in this Matrix: The Unseen Work of a Crime Analyst

The dedication of Police intelligence analysts in keeping the public safe behind the scenes.
SPF Chris Oh Yi Da PID 01
PHOTOS: Phoebe Leow

Headline news of murders, gang fights, and other serious crimes may cause some concern over public safety. Thankfully, these cases concluded with successful arrests, which assured the public that Singapore remained one of the safest cities in the world. 

Officers from the Singapore Police Force (SPF) strive to bring justice to victims of crime every day. Among them are officers from the Police Intelligence Department (PID) who operate covertly, to prevent, deter, and detect crime by leveraging a variety of tools to analyse wide-ranging sources of information.  

We find out more from Chris Oh, who is in charge of the Research Branch, under PID’s Strategic Analysis Division.

Masterminds of the Matrix
To stay ahead of evolving threats, being adept at analysing criminal activities is key. Increasing digitalisation, accelerated by the pandemic, have significantly transformed human behaviour and various facets of our lives. The growing dependence on digital transactions presents both opportunities and challenges to criminals and law enforcement, with scam syndicates exploiting digital technologies to reach out to potential scam victims. 

“As scammers constantly evolve their modus operandi to exploit victims' vulnerabilities and circumvent law enforcement, we realised that a whole-of-government approach is required to tackle the scourge we are facing,” said Chris. 

Chris currently co-leads a team of analysts in analysing online scams – leveraging tools such as Tableau and Python to synthesise information, conduct deep-dives into the modus operandi of criminal syndicates, identify crime trends that require intervention, and produce actionable intelligence. 

SPF Chris Oh Yi Da PID 02

The committed efforts of Chris and his fellow analysts in criminal intelligence community have transformed how SPF deals with evolving challenges. 

Beyond generating analytical insights, analysts also study the technology scammers use, and work closely with multiple agencies such as the Cyber Security Agency and the Infocomm Media Development Authority to come up with solutions. These include inoculating the public through a slew of education efforts and advocating for policy changes to enable his team to sufficiently deal with the threats of today.

“The role of a criminal intelligence analyst has broadened significantly over the years due to big data and the increasing complexity of the crime landscape. We have gone beyond providing data insights to guiding and advocating holistic solutions to emerging crime problems we face today,” he said. 

The Origin Story
Chris never imagined himself to be a crime-fighter.

“If you had asked me 14 years ago, I would not have been able to guess that I would be where I am right now,” he said.

Chris took a module in Criminology as a Sociology undergraduate, which sparked his interest to serve in SPF. 

While the learning curve was steep as a new analyst, Chris found satisfaction in applying what he had learnt to solve and prevent crimes.

“Being able to actively prevent potential victims from harms has kept me going,” he said.

His day-to-day work can be challenging, but Chris enjoys the dynamic nature of his job, and how he is able to make a difference behind the scenes. He served at the frontline as an analyst and intelligence analysis supervisor in Bedok Police Division, Public Transport Security Command, and Jurong Police Division for slightly over a decade. 

In the frontline units, he handled various crimes – from gang fights to youth delinquency and theft. Those stints helped solidify his foundation in handling different types of crimes before he was posted to Police HQ to co-lead the scams analysis team at a cross-departmental level.

“I had to make the transition from the frontline to adopt a more macro perspective – analysing broader crime trends such as the rise in online scams,” said Chris.

Even though Chris found the transition challenging, he was thankful that he had the opportunity to learn and develop new technical skills such as coding, while honing soft skills such as cross-unit collaborations as well as optimising human resources and management.

SPF Chris Oh Yi Da PID 03

“In my current team, everyone specialises in their own area of work but we certainly cannot function without one another,” Chris said, emphasising the importance of teamwork in achieving the ultimate goal of serving the public.

What are his key takeaways as a successful crime analyst?

“Keep an open mind and be willing to adapt. There will always be trying times and new challenges as society continues to evolve,” he said.

“It is absolutely critical to think out of the box so that we can stay ahead of the criminals to keep Singapore safe and secure.”

MHA Civilian Scholarship
The MHA Civilian Scholarship is awarded to outstanding individuals who are passionate about strengthening Singapore’s security and public safety. Recipients of the MHA Civilian Scholarship may choose from a variety of exciting and rewarding Home Team careers according to their interests and aspirations. This civilian scholarship offers six career tracks: a Generalist track and five Specialist tracks: Intelligence; Psychology; Commercial Affairs; Science and Technology; and Internal Security

Read other articles in this series
Generalist track - A Guide to Becoming a Policymaker
Commercial Affairs track - Truth Behind the Drama: Busting Money Laundering Myths
Internal Security track - Quiz: Are You Cut Out to be an ISD Officer?

Written by

Phoebe Leow


25 January 2023

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