On Assignment
HTX-Factor: CSI, SG Style
How the new Home Team S&T agency will help our Crime Scene Specialists strengthen their capabilities.

With the passage of the Home Team Science and Technology Agency Bill in Parliament on 6 August, a dedicated agency named HTX will be established to develop and share Science and Technology (S&T) capabilities across the Home Team.

Home Team News HTX Tan Joe-Lin 01B
Tan Joe-Lin with a Handheld 3D Scanner used for documenting crime scenes. PHOTO: Jermaine Ting

Among the officers who are part of this landmark change is Tan Joe-Lin, Officer-in-Charge (OC) Team with the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) Forensics Division. She explains how Forensic Science helps keep Singapore safe and secure.

On the Scene
Back alleys, void decks, rubbish dumps and oil tankers… These are just some of the places that Joe-Lin has applied her skills as a Crime Scene Specialist. Despite the many distractions, she’s never less than focused on her work.

“Processing a crime scene, you really have to involve your senses,” she explains. “Even when there’s a lot of commotion around us, we have to remain composed.”

Home Team NEws STG Tan Joe-lin GIF
Faster and more precise: The Handheld 3D Scanner allows Crime Scene Specialists to record vital information about a crime scene. GIF: Jermaine Ting

Joe-Lin joined SPF in 2012 after completing a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering at Nanyang Technological University and a Masters in Forensic Science at the University of New Haven. As an OC Team, Joe-Lin ensures that crime scenes are processed in accordance with rigorous scientific and legal requirements, so as to maximise the recovery of evidence.

This work requires patience and skill. “It can take hours to process a major crime scene,” she explains, “and by the time we return to our lab, it can be another few hours before we complete our documentation and begin our analysis.”

The S&T Edge
That’s where S&T comes in. Previously, for example, conducting bloodstain pattern analysis at a crime scene required the team to take manual measurements and do a series of calculations. But now, such work can be done more efficiently by deploying portable 3D scanning tools. “Technology has always been a game changer in crime scene investigations,” says Joe-Lin.

Even the art of recovering fingerprints – vital for identifying suspects – has been streamlined. “In the past, we’d bring exhibits back to the lab to analyse,” she says. “But now, we can take our equipment to a crime scene, process exhibits for fingerprints and then share this information with investigators to quickly identity suspects.”

Strengthening Our Capabilities
According to Joe-Lin, S&T has a vital role to play in fulfilling the Home Team’s mission. “Forensic Science is the application of Science in the service of the law,” she says. “We apply Physics, Chemistry and Biology to understand what happened at a crime scene, generate leads and identify suspects. It’s really rewarding when, at the end of the day, we can use S&T to help arrest and prosecute suspects, exonerate the innocent and provide closure.”
Home Team News STG Tan Joe-lin Collage
Technology has been a game changer in the documentation of crime scenes. PHOTOS: Jermaine Ting

HTX will focus on strengthening such unique capabilities. That means fresh opportunities for Joe-Lin and her team to broaden their skills. “I’m looking forward to delving deeper into my specialisation, doing more research and development, and using S&T to enable our officers,” she shares.

Also on the cards is greater synergy across the Home Team. “With a dedicated agency, resources can be deployed to fulfil the needs of our Home Team Departments,” says Joe-Lin. “At the end of the day, this will help us to better serve the public.”

HTX: The Home Team Science and Technology Agency
The Home Team Science and Technology Agency Bill was passed in Parliament on 6 August 2019. Read the Second Reading Speech and Wrap-up Speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs.

The Home Team’s S&T capabilities reflect our unique operational context and mission requirements. To learn more about these capabilities, check out:
- HTX-Factor: Robotic Force Multiplier
Science and Tech in the Home Team
Other S&T articles
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Ashley Tuen
  2. 06 August 2019
Back to top