Police flunked test due to poor preparation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 February, 2011, 12:00am

Relying on questions in previous papers, and poor knowledge of new law enforcement issues, were reasons for most police officers failing last year's promotion exam, a review has found.

Only 30 candidates out of 225 passed the Standard III Inspectorate Professional Examination for promotion to senior and chief inspector, prompting calls for an investigation into declining pass rates.

In a Security Bureau paper submitted yesterday to the Legislative Council, the review, which included focus-group talks with candidates, found 'the poor examination results of the October 2010 sitting were not caused by any irregularities'.

The force also examined possible causes for the poor results and noted that 51 officers withdrew from the examination, in line with a trend. Only between one and six candidates withdrew from exams between 2006 and 2009, but 34 and 30 from exams sat in October 2009 and April last year respectively.

A document sent to district commanders last year laid out in stark terms how pass rates for the examination plunged from 100 per cent in April 2007 to a low of just 6 per cent in the latest tests.

Yesterday's review found that many candidates prepared inadequately, with some overly focused on previous examination papers and with only a weak knowledge of new topical issues related to policing.

Measures to be introduced to improve the pass rates include briefing sessions for candidates twice a year and disqualifying officers from retaking examinations if they score below 30 per cent twice in a row.

The Force Examination Board will also be expanded from six to eight members, to include one chief superintendent and one senior superintendent from the front line.

Tony Liu Kit-ming, chairman of the Hong Kong Police Inspectors' Association, was disappointed with the review as it did not explain the dramatic slump in the pass rate.

'The number of withdrawals by candidates does not have any direct relationship with the pass rate. The force should deal with the problem directly,' Liu said.

The October examination included non-traditional questions which were criticised by officers as too academic, such as asking to explain the difference between gambling and lotteries, instead of asking what 'illegal gambling' meant, an officer familiar with the test said.

Falling short

The number of police officers out of 225 who failed a promotion examination last year: 195