Long arm of the law reaches out

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 February, 2008, 12:00am

If you have a passion for law enforcement and want to serve the community, then the force is with you. The Hong Kong Police Force is on the lookout for bright individuals who want a challenging career in public service.

Patrick Kwok Pak-chung, superintendent at the recruitment division, who has been with the force for almost 20 years, said recruitment drives were conducted all year round.

Once or twice a month, the force also holds publicity campaigns, career talks and seminars with the Education Bureau. 'We are trying to enhance publicity to the right group of people using several initiatives at the university level,' he said.

The police mentorship programme is one such initiative. The programme involves selected police officers who act as mentors to prospective candidates found mainly in universities.

'The primary goal is to promote a positive image and to inspire these candidates via the mentors and [other] activities,' Superintendent Kwok said.

'Since its inception in 2004, the programme has been very successful, with 385 candidates working with 38 mentors. We've had close to 300 applications as a result and 30 candidates have been recruited.'

Recruitment drives are also held at local job expositions and the results have been positive. Police recruiting officers have participated in these events for several years and they will again have a booth at this month's Education and Career Expo at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

This year's focus will also include recruiting part-time auxiliary police officers.

The police force also runs a recruitment project known as the Auxiliary Undergraduate Scheme (AUS), which targets second year university students. The programme involves an eight-week summer training course.

'Our selection process is very stringent, for regular or auxiliary officers,' Superintendent Kwok said.

'Apart from the basic educational and physical requirements, some of the key characteristics we look for are good judgment and thinking, energy, open-mindedness and resourcefulness.

'Of course, personal values are also very important, such as integrity and honesty. But most importantly, a commitment to serve must be a passion within these candidates, as helping people is always our ultimate aim.'

For regular recruits, there is the Police College where probationary inspectors, whose minimum starting salary is HK$27,980, are put through 36 weeks of training, while trainee constables, whose salaries start at a minimum of HK$15,350, have to complete 27 weeks. After graduating, new officers are assigned to different divisions, allowing each officer to determine which area of police work they are interested in and qualified for.

The force also gives about HK$6 million annually as private study subsidies to its officers.

In addition to training in Hong Kong, officers have the opportunity to go overseas. They can also train with mainland police officers.

'An officer's career path is normally determined by their talent and development, and our goal is to provide a structured career development path, allowing recruits to experience the different fields of the police force. The nature of this job is inherently diversified,' he said.

Perhaps Superintendent Kwok himself embodies the varied duties and experiences one can expect to go through. He was previously with the Police Tactical Unit, vice squad and the division that handles complaints against police officers.

Although recruitment offices have been closed for some time, the force is working on enhancing its online services as 80 to 85 per cent of new candidates are filling out applications via the internet and e-mail. The force will soon publicise its internet-related improvements, including hyperlinks from other popular websites.

'We want to provide an environment which enhances the confidence and professionalism of our officers.

'We want to help them understand and apply that knowledge not only in their job, but also in their life.

'Competition with the private sector is intense, but we like to believe we offer a complete, life-fulfilling experience,' Superintendent Kwok said.

On the beat

There are about 19,000 police constables in the force, in addition to about 1,600 inspectors and senior inspectors

In the 2006-2007 financial year, there were 8,311 applications for police constable positions and 5,026 for police inspector jobs

The police force plans to hire about 1,200 police constables

and 105 police inspectors during 2007-2008

Commitment to serve must be a passion within each candidate

36-week training course for inspectors, 27-week training course for constables