Last of overseas police officers heading to retirement

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 November, 2012, 5:10am

Dozens of overseas police officers who became part of the thin blue line in Hong Kong during the 1970s and 1980s are fast approaching the mandatory retirement age of 55, making a sharp dent in this group, which numbered close to 800 at its peak.

There are an estimated 150 overseas officers still in the force and many of them attended the 65th anniversary of the Overseas Inspectors Association on Friday night at the Police College in Aberdeen.

Some retired overseas officers flew back to Hong Kong especially for the reunion.

The association was founded in 1947 by the then Commissioner of Police Duncan MacIntosh, and the group lobbied for better pay, living quarters and health care for its members.

No overseas officers have been recruited since 1994, and many of those approaching retirement age have left to work in the private sector, despite some wanting to stay in the force.

"Officers have to retire at 55 and we believe that this is antiquated and in need of change," said current chairman Ron Abbot, 47, who works in the detective training division.

"There is a growing worldwide trend for the mandatory retirement age to be increased and it would also reflect the demographics of our society."

A Civil Services Bureau spokeswoman said the retirement age was based on operational needs, implications for the promotion prospects of serving officers and opportunities for the younger generation to join the civil service.

"Any proposed changes have to be carefully studied. In the meantime, we will keep aware of discussions and developments on this matter," she said.