Training programme enhances awareness
Effective policing entails upholding the law, but doing that is not simply a matter of learning the rules. It also requires an understanding of expectations and norms within the broader community and of the behaviour people are likely to display in all kinds of testing situations.
For that reason, training programmes at the Police College now offer more extensive courses in social science and policing psychology. Recruits and officers are taught about their specific roles in society, and their responsibilities and accountability. The programme also covers a range of psychological issues such as stress and conflict management, the mentality of victims and encountering different emotions.
'We want to improve their skills in dealing with the public,' said Robin Tse Shu-chun, assistant commissioner of Police and director of the Police College.
He added that the college was opened in January last year to offer newcomers and more experienced members of the force scenario-based training. By recreating real-life situations, the aim is to enhance each participant's problem-solving ability and general level of awareness.
Much of the training is done at a 7,000 square metre centre in Wong Chuk Hang where typical scenarios are set up for such things as traffic accidents, investigating crime scenes, or conducting raids on massage parlours.
'The more realistic the scenario, the more the police can learn,' Mr Tse said. 'It is much more practical than reading up on cases.'
The use of technology is also making a difference. For example, e-learning courses now allow recruits to study topics such as the organisation of the force or the specifications of guns through computers. This reduces lecture hours and is cost-effective.
In order to formalise the skills and knowledge being taught, the college has asked the Open University to examine the syllabus, teaching methods and quality assurance system.
'The university is satisfied with our programme,' Mr Tse said. 'Police constables who complete the training will receive a certificate of Law Enforcement and Security Management, which is equal to 30 academic credits.'
Those who complete subsequent courses equivalent to 30 additional credits are eligible for a diploma, and anyone taking 60 more credits will receive a degree.
'Our aim is to encourage life-long learning with academic accreditation,' said Mr Tse.
He noted that selected officers also had the chance to attend short courses at academies in the United States, Britain, Australia, the Netherlands and Singapore. Apart from taking classes, participants also learned from local police in each country with a series of 'thematic visits' to see them in action. Ranks from constables to senior superintendent are considered.
'We choose based on a certain level of language proficiency and good performance,' Mr Tse said.