MORE than 750 convicted sex and violent offenders, burglars and drug dealers have tried to land jobs as security guards and watchmen since licensing regulations were introduced three years ago. Since the Security and Guarding Services (Licensing) Regulation took effect on December 1995, security guards have been forced to obtain licences in an effort to rid the industry of elderly watchmen who were often caught asleep on the job in building lobbies. Police records show that 768 applicants for security personnel permits had been rejected since the regulation was introduced because they had criminal records. Apart from having no convictions, restrictions also forced those aged over 70 in residential buildings to pass medical tests. The issue was raised on Wednesday by Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong legislator Tam Yiu-chung, who has received four complaints from watchmen and building managers unable to obtain licences. Police have so far issued 119,418 security personnel permits and received 123,805 applications. Officers issuing the permits have to consider the applicant's criminal record. A police spokesman said a former convict could not normally obtain a permit if he had been released from jail within the previous two years or was on probation. 'However, not all applicants with convictions are rejected,' he said. Mr Tam's electorate office in the New Territories West has taken up the case of a security guard convicted of sexually assaulting a woman who lost his job because he could not get a permit. Mr Tse, 56, said it was unfair to label all former convicts. 'I was guilty of indecent assault and common assault in 1971 - that's almost 30 years ago. 'Why can't I be given the chance to work again?' Having worked as a security guard at a commercial building in Causeway Bay in the 1970s, Mr Tse said his qualifications made him suitable. After Mr Tam took up the case with the police department, Mr Tse was asked to apply again but was unable to because he had lost his job and had no employer to sponsor him. He now has to rely on Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, receiving $3,100 a month. Federation of Trade Unions vice-chairman Leung Fu-wah said the requirement for applicants to have a job before applying should be dropped. He also questioned the requirement for police to consider applicants' backgrounds. 'Some men in the past have been criminals but are now new men,' Mr Leung said. But when asked whether parents would agree with having former criminals working in their residential buildings, he admitted it was difficult to tell whether former offenders had reformed.