Home Team Behavioral Science Centre

Hi Everyone!

If you have been waiting for the minutes taken during the Behavioral Science Centre (BSC) career talk. Here it is!

Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre (HTBSC)

  • What is the Home Team?
    • Ministry of Home Affairs is its parent organization
    • Set base in Home Team Academy
  • How do Psychologists support HT operations?
    • 3 ‘O’ concept:
      – Operation: Investigation (interviewing, risk assessment), Major deployment/Crisis (crowd psychology, civil disobedience, morale management).
      – Organisation: Selection & Assessment, Development (coaching & training).
      – Officers: Resilience initiatives (e.g. if there’s a crisis, can the community rebound and cope with it?), Counseling services, Crisis intervention.
  • What is the HTBSC?
    • A research & training hub, a young department which started in 2005
    • Report directly to Permanent Secretary MHA
    • Research, training, operational support. To enhance officers’ operations at work
    • Overseas visits for conferences, working trips or study visits
    • Training and operational studies
  • Difference between psychologist and researcher?
    • Psychologist – permanent staff, develops expertise in one to two key areas but also expected to do a bit of everything
    • Researchers – primarily focused on one key area of research/training, contract-based
  • Crime Investigation & Forensic Psychologist
    • Research
      – Crime research like sex/violent crimes
      – Organized crime research like unlicensed money lending (UML) – eg, factors that push them to start doing it, motivations, business models and structure in which they operate
      – Drug offence research like drug mules (transporters/carriers/middlemen)
      – Immigration related crime research like how deception takes place at checkpoints (issue of illegal immigrants)
      – Detection of deception research
    • Research Infrastructure
      – Laboratory for forensic psychology research (e.g. non-verbal deception cues)
  • Operations & Leadership Psychologist
    • Research
      – Command Leadership Research
      – Leadership assessment development etc. e.g. look for behavioural indicators
      – 360 feedback for HT leaders,
    • – How best to train the officers (methodology)
  • Resilience, Safety & Security Psychologist
    • Research
      – Levels of resilience research (e.g. individual, organizational, community, national levels of resilience), etc.
    • Training for officers and leaders
  • HTBSC Research Structure
    • Researcher-driven research, e.g. terrorism
    • International Visiting Research Programme (IVRP) e.g. Crime Linkages, eye-witness testimonials
    • Psychologist-driven research e.g. youth crimes, command leadership
    • Internship Programmes
  • Checks & Balances
    • Supervision by bosses
    • Consultation with partners, HT officers – get their opinions
    • Training courses, international conferences (e.g. SPCP, SIOP)
    • Opportunities for postgraduate education like Masters. Advantage is that you can choose which field to specialize in, after the working experience for a few years. Disadvantage is relatively long waiting time.
  • HTBSC Ops Support
    • Electonic Focus Groups, facilitate discussions to see what went well/wrong after major ops
    • Ops Research specifically for operations, e.g. situation awareness in command posts – observe how communication flow and what factors affect the situation
  • HTBSC Products
    • E.g. Research reports

  Experiences, Challenges and Opportunities as a Psychologist

  • Research
    • Review papers – major & minor concept so that nobody is over-specialised; breadth is maintained to stay relevant
    • Empirical Research Project, e.g. interviews with senior leaders, ground officers etc., detailed interviews with inmates
  • Training
    • Command & Crisis Leadership – situation awareness, crisis decision making, facilitate tactical games/case studies
    • Behavioural Analysis – sex & violence, facilitate profiling exercises/case studies
  •  Ops Support
    • Electronic Focus Groups, e.g. Singapore Youth Olympic Games, pre-ops sensing & post-ops review
    • Ops Research Studies, e.g. situation awareness in command posts etc.
    • Morale Sensing for major operations
    • Counseling for HT officers
  • Incident debriefing – breaking of bad news, supporting next-of-kin
  •  Leadership Work
    • Train assessors, design exercises (role-play)
    • Design 360 feedback, write reports
  • Administration
    • Project management – write review papers, analysis of incidents
    • A lot of meetings – write & vet minutes, updates on key projects, propose solutions
    • Event management – venue/logistics/catering/manpower
    • Financial procedures – liaise with vendors
  • Why is this job enjoyable?
    • Exposure to different fields of psychology
    • Real-life application
    • Interaction with a lot of people
    • Opportunities for learning & self-development
    • Most importantly, supportive & fun working environment
  • Challenges
    • Steep learning curve – need to be resourceful and take initiative
    • Must be flexible as not everything has a clear structure
    • Tight deadlines – must have good time management
    • Preparedness, to be on standby all the time
    • Stressful – must have own work-life balance
    • Relatively lower pay as compared to similar premium organisations; must be clear of personal motivations
    • Takes considerable time to climb up career ladder

 Career in HTBSC

  • Qualifications
    • Psychologist – minimum 2nd Upper Honours (Researchers in HTBSC – min 3rd class honours), although there are exceptions
    • Interest in Psychology with willingness to learn, good interpersonal skills etc.
  • Career Prospects
    • HT Specialist Scheme
    • studies/advancement in career
    • 5-day work week, 18 days of leave
    • Alternatively, join as a Behavioural Sciences Research Analyst
  • Internships
    • 3 periods
      – Feb to Apr (Full/Part-time) – Project-based.
      – May to July (Full-time) – 12 to 14 weeks
      – Dec (Full-time) – 5 weeks

Apply: HTBSC Intern Manager Ms Stephanie Chan Stephanie_chan@mha.gov.sg

Next up: Ministry of Education! Stay tune!

With regards,

NUS Psychology Society


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