Strict training drill for police to stay, says commandant

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 August, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 August, 1994, 12:00am

THE commandant of the Police Training School has pledged to continue the military-style drill for recruits despite recent criticism.

Chief Superintendent Eric Leung Chi-bun said yesterday criticism of the school's training programme was misplaced, and there would be no further changes to repetitious marching with rifles, foot drill, snap room inspections and mock parades.

Mr Leung said tough discipline was an important component of training.

Applying appropriate punishment for unacceptable conduct, dress and hygiene instilled team pride, honour and commitment, he said.

His comments follow the transfer earlier this month of a sergeant accused of beating a recruit constable and mounting criticism of the programme's apparent harsh nature.

It is also no secret a number of senior officers have long been encouraging radical changes to the gruelling 24-week residential course.

But Mr Leung said he was satisfied with the present balance of drill, study and physical exercise.

''Drill is the first vehicle to creating many virtues,'' he said, ''and, on completion, it gives a person discipline and pride.

''It teaches people to be alert and not necessarily just arrest criminals.

''In squad formation, drill ensures team discipline. To prepare a policeman or woman to take on board practical experience, I think it is essential to make sure they are well-disciplined and well-trained.

''It is not tough or hard . . . it is solid. We want people who we know, in the face of a challenge, are not going to back off.

''These days being rude or harsh is no way to conduct training - it must be done in a professional way.

''But, that sense of responsibility is the backbone of the force.

''Responsibility is nurtured through training, and drill is an integral part of producing people with that sort of solidity.'' The police investigation into the allegation of assault at the training school was last week handed to the Legal Department to determine whether there was evidence to justify charges.

About 50 people were interviewed during the inquiry.

The recruit's accusations sparked criticism of training and its focus on discipline and drill.

Earlier this year, the South China Morning Post revealed a review of recruit training had recommended a reduction - but not an abandonment - of drill in favour of greater course work.

Now, only 13 per cent of the course is devoted to drill despite the figure, at one time, being close to 20 per cent.

These gaps have been filled by tactical firearms training and social science courses.

There has also been consideration given to training in police philosophy.