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First female Singapore Merit scholar uses psychology to serve justice
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Cammy Chua
ASP Chua blends psychology skills with her investigative work. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA

ASP Cammy Chua is breaking barriers and refining policing in the Ang Mo Kio Police Division by adopting a more empathetic approach to crime solving

Though only four months into her posting as an investigation officer, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Cammy Chua seems to have already discovered her strong suit.

The 25-year-old, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from University College London in Britain, says her academic grounding enables her to extend her role beyond conventional crime investigation. Her psychology skills have equipped her to conduct interviews with victims and offenders in a more empathetic manner, prioritising rehabilitation over punishment.

ASP Chua received her education through the Singapore Merit Scholarship under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Uniformed Scholarships and currently works at the Ang Mo Kio Division of the Singapore Police Force (SPF).

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She recalls one memorable case when she found a teenage girl who was reported missing after running away from her custody home. 

As she escorted the girl back, the teen opened up to the officer about being bullied by other girls in the home, as well as feeling helpless about her life circumstances.

“I wanted to help her find meaning in her life and have something to work towards, so I asked what her interests in school were,” says ASP Chua. “She told me she enjoyed her design module.

“I reminded her that despite many things not being within her control at that point in time, she still had control over what she does with her life, and encouraged her to pursue her interest in design.”

This case encapsulates how a new generation of Police officers – of which ASP Chua is a part – operates. Equipped not just with traditional law enforcement skills, but also a deeper understanding of human behaviour, SPF’s fresh faces boast a blend of skills crucial in an increasingly complex societal landscape, where causes of crime can be multifaceted.

ASP Chua (first row, fourth from left) working with her team on a First Responder Training programme. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

A heart for the youth

Psychology insights have given ASP Chua a nuanced understanding of the factors that can lead to youth breaking the law, such as their socio-economic background and childhood influences.

This awareness enables her to look beyond the surface of their actions, considering deeper motivations and circumstances that might have led to their behaviour. 

“In many cases, crime is more complex than a mere blatant disregard for the law,” she says. “I look deeper into why people resort to doing certain things.”

For example, she harnesses her psychology skills to listen carefully, choose her words sensitively, and conduct interviews with offenders and victims involved in Police cases in a more empathetic manner.

“With youth, there is still so much you can shape. There is a lot of potential in terms of how we can make a positive impact on them through our interactions.”

ASP Cammy Chua, recipient of the Singapore Merit Scholarship under the MHA Uniformed Scholarships (SPF)

This approach, she believes, can be more effective in addressing youth crime in the long term as it focuses on understanding and addressing root causes instead of simply punishing criminal actions.

If given an opportunity to reshape policies in the future, the SPF scholar hopes to delve further into this newfound area of passion. 

“With youth, there is still so much you can shape,” she says. “There is a lot of potential in terms of how we can make a positive impact on them through our interactions.”

ASP Chua was awarded the prestigious Sword of Merit in 2023 for her excellent performance during training. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

More than a desk job

In pursuing a career with the SPF, ASP Chua has found meaningful work with deep community impact. But what first drove her to explore a Police role was the great fit it offered for her active lifestyle. 

The Raffles Institution alumnus grew up doing martial arts and playing sports, including touch rugby. By the time she began to explore potential career paths in her second year of junior college, the student had her heart set on avoiding desk-bound jobs. 

“I like that policing is a very spontaneous kind of job; you never know what to expect. There are many opportunities to rotate to different fields in policing, and that adaptivity is something I am interested in,” she says.

Now, ASP Chua looks forward to action-packed workdays where she “runs around from place to place” investigating crimes such as theft, harassment, breach of trust and rash acts causing hurt. She collects evidence, takes statements and recommends cases to government prosecutors to take to court. 

The work is satisfying, she says, especially when a case is resolved and justice is served. “Knowing that I played a part in solving a case means I am able to make a difference in someone’s life,” she explains.

Committed to giving her best at work and during training, ASP Chua was awarded the Sword of Merit in 2023.

This recognition is given to the second-best trainee within each cohort. To qualify, officers must score consistently in professional knowledge, leadership training and field training, and excel in both peer and supervisory appraisals by demonstrating strong teamwork and expertise.

“My mantra is to stay true to where you see greater meaning and fulfilment in life,” ASP Chua says. “My scholarship experience was empowering because it revealed my untapped potential, showing me that I could achieve more than I believed.”

ASP Cammy Chua attending 
the xxx with her colleagues
ASP Chua (first row, first from left) attending the Senior Officer Basic Course graduation ceremony with her SPF squadmates and course manager. PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

Joining the Force 

The first woman to be awarded the Singapore Merit Scholarship, ASP Cammy Chua completed six months of army training before beginning her Police career. Here’s a look at her journey with the SPF:

Jan – Mar 2018
Basic Military Training and Officer Cadet School

ASP Chua joins an all-female platoon of about 50 army regulars. “I didn’t feel out of place. We were treated the same as our male peers,” she says.

At Officer Cadet School, ASP Chua is one of two women in a company of about 100 people. “We felt very supported by our male counterparts,” she adds. 

“They didn’t see us as any less and would give us opportunities to put our best foot forward.”

Apr – Jun 2018
Awarded scholarship and appointed as a Police officer 

“I was determined to shatter gender stereotypes and encourage female representation in the higher SPF scholarship tiers,” ASP Chua says. Her appointment marked a milestone in growing female representation in the SPF. 

2018 – 2022
University studies

ASP Chua obtains a Bachelor of Science in Experimental Psychology from University College London, and a Master of Science in Human Resources and Organisations Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

During this time, she clocks in vacation attachments with various SPF units, including the Police Security Command which looks after the safety of Cabinet ministers.

Official duties commence

She is posted to Ang Mo Kio Police Division as an investigation officer.
About The SPF Scholarship
The Singapore Police Force scholarship is one of the most prestigious scholarships offered by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to candidates who demonstrate strong leadership qualities and have a strong interest in policing work. Scholars will continue their learning journeys in world-renowned universities which provide intellectually, socially and personally enriching programmes. Upon graduation, scholars will be involved in shaping policies that address issues on public law and order as well as play an integral role in protecting the country and its communities.

This article is brought to you by the Singapore Police Force.

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