Almost three in four junior police officers - constables, sergeants and station sergeants - want to be able to work until the age of 60, a police union survey has found.
The figures contradict the position taken by police management and the Civil Service Bureau that police officers would not want to work beyond the compulsory retirement age of 55.
The survey, carried out by the Junior Police Officers' Association earlier this year, asked 9,825 junior officers - around 35 per cent of the force - if they would want the option to work after 55.
More than 73 per cent said they would want to work until 60.
The data were handed to the Civil Service Bureau last month.
"We want police and all disciplined services [staff] to have the same retirement age as all civil servants, which is 60," said the union's chairman, Joe Chan Cho-kwong. "A few years ago, when we suggested this to them, they argued that they didn't think many officers would support it."
Chan said a flexible retirement age was needed if the force was to deal with a wave of retirements between now and 2019.
This financial year, the force will lose 634 officers. Retirements will peak in 2019, when more than 1,000 will leave their posts.
"Police management and the bureau … don't understand that lifestyles have changed," Chan said.
Anecdotally, most officers would prefer not to work after 55, Chan said. But a combination of factors such as people getting married later, the ageing population and financial considerations meant the chance to keep earning an income was important.
"That's why we think it's worth it, because HK$1 billion, compared to total government expenditure, is only a small amount," Chan said, quoting the union's estimated cost to the government if it were to keep on the 4,170 officers due to retire between now and March 2018.
A police spokeswoman said the current retirement age in the civil service, including the police, had been set after taking into account factors including manpower planning, public finances, the promotion prospects of serving officers and the broader job market.
"The proposal to extend the retirement age is a complicated subject … which needs to be carefully examined," she said.