New rule requires police to report ties with bad characters

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 January, 2010, 12:00am

Police have stepped up efforts to uphold their integrity, with a new rule requiring officers to report their ties with 'undesirable characters' - those who might jeopardise the reputation of the force.

The rule, set out last year, was one of the key measures taken by the Committee on Integrity Management, established in March last year to promote a high standard of ethics within the force.

Since 2005, officers have been obliged to report to their superiors off-duty associations with triad members or people with criminal records. The new rule covers ties with others who might harm the reputation of the police.

Deputy Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung, who heads the integrity committee, said about 70 notices citing their close ties with such people had been served on officers since the requirement was first introduced in 2005.

'Officers should be aware of their behaviour and its impact on the force's reputation,' he said.

Seven 'behavioural guidelines' were also laid down last year, setting the parameters within which officers are expected to conduct themselves.

As the force begins to conduct integrity-related investigations, officers who breach the rules may be punished.

'But we will be looking at the context [of the misconduct] rather than focusing on a particular case,' Tsang said, adding that the force would provide rehabilitation and counselling to the officers concerned.

Tony Liu Kit-ming, chairman of the Police Inspectors' Association, was concerned that the new requirement could be controversial, as officers should have the right to meet with different people.

'Even a former criminal could make a fresh start and go to church, and it might not be a good idea to restrict our officers from hanging around with these people in church,' he said.

The force is also preparing to roll out psychometric tests for new recruits by April.

Tsang said the measure was aimed at bringing in more appropriate candidates and to reduce natural attrition. The tests would include three papers and be conducted in the final round of the hiring interview.

Psychometric tests were first suggested in 2006 after off-duty constable Tsui Po-ko shot and killed a fellow policeman and wounded another in an underpass in Tsim Sha Tsui.

At an inquest, Tsui was described as unbalanced.

Tsang said the force expected a high rate of retirement until 2018 and would have to recruit more than 1,000 officers every year, including 150 probationary inspectors and 1,082 constables this year.