Just 30 out of 225 officers passed key police exam

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 November, 2010, 12:00am

A detailed breakdown of just how badly nearly 200 officers performed in the Hong Kong Police Force's recent promotion examinations has prompted fresh calls for an investigation of the pass-rate meltdown.

A force debriefing on the results of the Standard III Inspectorate Professional Examination, seen by the Sunday Morning Post, shows that of the 225 officers who sat the exam last month, just 30 passed.

Another document lays out in stark terms how pass rates for the exam plunged from 100 per cent in April 2007 to a low of just 6 per cent in the latest tests.

The debriefing report, which was sent to district police commanders and force staff unions, also contains comments from exam markers. In them, they conclude that the candidates' answers to an array of questions on police work and procedures show many had either inadequate knowledge, or a complete lack of knowledge, of subjects.

As pressure builds for an explanation of what caused such a collapse in performance, Democratic Party lawmaker and chairman of the Legislative Council's security panel James To Kun-sun said a letter had been sent to Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong requesting that a paper be prepared for discussion at a future panel meeting. 'There clearly is a problem and we need to find out the nature of that problem as a matter of urgency,' To said.

Those close to the situation say police staff union representatives will be given a full briefing by senior officers later this week.

After describing the results as alarming last week, Local Inspectors' Association chairman Tony Lui Kit-ming yesterday said that having seen the questions, he felt some did not relate specifically to police work and some candidates' anger about the paper may have been justified. 'I don't want to say much more at this stage because the review is being carried out and we should wait for its results,' Liu said.

People familiar with the situation say force staff associations will be briefed on the exam problems at the staff associations' monthly meeting at the end of this month.

Ron Abbott, chairman of the Overseas Inspectors' Association, said that police management should be given credit for looking into the matter 'expeditiously'.

'Obviously we hope that force management will be reviewing the overall policy of recruitment, including that of favouring university graduates, perhaps at the expense of more 'streetwise' officers who do not have a university education. However, only time will tell,' Abbott said.

'It would appear police forces/departments worldwide have gone down the academic route, something the Hong Kong police have followed. However, whether that is what really benefits society is something that needs to be questioned.

'If Hong Kong truly is one of the safest metropolitan societies from a worldwide perspective, then it did not come from a police force led by university graduates, but rather by officers who had experience in 'hands-on' policing.

'I would add that every officer of senior inspector rank to the commissioner of police himself has had to sit and pass the Standard III exams. It is not something that has recently been introduced. We have all had to go through it. Nowadays the inspectors even get leave to study for their examinations.'

Abbott said Deputy Commissioner (Operations) Andy Tsang Wai-hung had told Chinese newspapers that 'standards will not be dropped' in the wake of last week's Sunday Morning Post report revealing the candidates' poor performance. Abbott said Tsang's position was fully supported by the association.

Must do better

Potential reasons for dropping grades in Standard III Professional Exams:

(a) drop in quality of inspectors

(b) drop in effectiveness Police College training they received

(c) exam questions too difficult;

(d) marking too stringent