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HTX-Factor: Crime Scene 101
Solving crimes, with Science – demonstrating the potential of Home Team S&T to students at the National Science Challenge 2019.

Home Team News HTX NSC2019 01
Dedicated to S&T (from left): Yong Heng Wei, Tan Joe-Lin and Eng Wan Ying bring diverse expertise and skills to solving crimes. PHOTO: Jermaine Ting

Ducking under the crime scene tape, the students opened the door to find a dead body on the floor and bloodstains on the wall. Though the room was in disarray, scattered within were a number of vital clues about how the victim had been murdered. 

But how were the students going to uncover these clues and catch the suspect? 
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At the scene of the "crime"… PHOTO: Jermaine Ting

Thankfully, we weren’t at an actual crime scene, but a recreation that had been meticulously prepared for the National Science Challenge 2019 by officers from the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX). 

As for the students, they were ably guided by a trio of dedicated officers – Yong Heng Wei, Senior Fingerprint Specialist, Forensics Division, Criminal Investigation Department, Singapore Police Force (SPF); Tan Joe-Lin, Officer-in-Charge (OC) Team with the SPF's Forensics Division; and Eng Wan Ying, Senior Laboratory Analyst, Home Team Investigation Laboratory

Over the course of a day, the three officers taught students from Cedar Girls’ Secondary School, National Junior College, NUS High School of Science and Mathematics and Victoria School about the vital role that Science and Technology (S&T) plays in solving crime, from latent fingerprint detection to conducting rapid DNA analysis. 

We spoke to Heng Wei, Joe-Lin and Wan Ying about their passion for S&T! 

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PHOTO: Jermaine Ting

Tell us about your work as Home Team officers.  
Heng Wei: As a Senior Fingerprint Specialist, I process and analyse finger marks from crime scenes in order to identify possible suspects. 

Joe-Lin: I supervise a team of Crime Scene Specialists in the thorough investigation of major crime scenes. I also ensure that the actions we undertake are comprehensive and conducted according to rigorous scientific and legal standards.

Wan Ying: As a Senior Laboratory Analyst, my job scope ranges from the DNA profiling of samples to providing quick intel leads to Home Team Departments.

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Learning the finer points of looking for clues and collecting samples at a crime scene. PHOTOS: Jermaine Ting and Janani Sivalingam
Having shared the basics of processing a crime scene with the students, how do you think they fared?
Heng Wei: They did a wonderful job! The students surpassed our expectations, given the limited time they had to do research. They were also very creative in presenting their findings, using recreations and models to illustrate concepts that were difficult to visualise. I hope it was an enriching experience for the students as they were able to apply what they’d researched and apply scientific principles to process a crime scene.

Joe-Lin: It was a great opportunity for students to learn how different disciplines of Science – such as Biology, Chemistry and Physics – can come together and be applied, even at a crime scene.

Wan Ying: The students had a rare, hands-on experience in processing a crime scene using proper techniques and instruments. I was impressed by their ability to digest the scientific information we shared in a relatively short period of time, and to explain their findings in a simple and clear manner.
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The students worked hard to collect samples, conduct analyses and present their cases. PHOTOS: Jermaine Ting

What do you feel are the qualities that Home Team S&T officers should have? 
Heng Wei: As Home Team officers who work in S&T, we have to keep abreast with the latest developments and knowledge as the field is constantly evolving. Also, because we have operational roles, we have to be ever-ready as cases may come at any time. 

Working in S&T has given me the opportunity to work on actual criminal cases with like-minded officers from many different departments. We support investigations that ultimately benefit society.

Wan Ying: We need to have integrity and a strong sense of service towards the public. What motivates us to give our best is the trust and confidence that the public has in us.

Joe-Lin: It’s also very important to be inquisitive, objective and passionate. Curiosity helps us to maximise the recovery of evidence. As officers, we also have to stay objective and not be influenced when gathering or analysing evidence, and press on despite challenges and set-backs. 

Like Heng Wei and Wan Ying, I like that the research and work we do makes a tangible difference, not only to officers from different Home Team Departments, but also to the public.

To find out if the students managed to crack their cases, check out the episode on crime scene investigations.

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: CSI, SG Style
- HTX-Factor: Robotic Force Multiplier
- Science and Tech in the Home Team
- Other S&T articles

National Science Challenge 2019
The National Science Challenge provides Secondary Three students with a chance to put their skills and knowledge to the test during studio rounds and at on-site challenges. To find out if the students managed to crack their cases, check out the episode on crime scene investigations.
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Janani Sivalingam
  2. 29 August 2019
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