Difficulty to Recruit Police Officers in HK Leads to Lowering of Entry Standards, and Only 27.6 Percent of Applicants Qualified in English Requirement

To find a solution to the issue of unfilled vacancies in the police force, the Hong Kong government, in May 2023, relaxed the entry requirements for police constables, police inspectors, and police constables (auxiliary). Among the relaxations put into practice, is another pathway to satisfy the language proficiency requirement, for those who did not gain a pass at level 2 of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE). However, as of the end of December 2023, the overall pass rate since its implementation, is less than 50 percent, while only 27.6 percent passed the English test.It is long known that the police in Hong Kong earn higher than average salaries and benefits, and the entry requirements are relatively low, so joining the police force has long been an attractive career pathway for a lot of young secondary school graduates who do not perform too well academically at school. However, after the anti-extradition movement in 2019, it has become exceedingly difficult for the Hong Kong government to recruit police officers. It seems a lot of people are getting more reluctant to help enforce the notorious national security law (NSL) on the government’s behalf.When Chris Tang Ping-keung, the Secretary for Security, responded to a question from one LegCo member on Jan. 10, 2024, he revealed that as of Dec. 31, 2023, 87 people had taken the “Recruit Police Constable (Chinese) Written Examination,” and 623 people had taken the English version test, of which 14 of the latter took both. The number of people who passed the Chinese part was 43, and 172 passed the English part, meaning the pass rates were 49.4 percent and 27.6 percent, respectively.Mr. Tang claimed that the “Recruit Police Constable (Chinese/English) Written Examination” is based on Level 2 of the Chinese and English subjects of HKDSE, and the content of the assessment is adjusted more in line with the actual communication and interpretation needs of police officers on daily duty.In May 2023, the Epoch Times interviewed one secondary school teacher who was teaching DSE Chinese language courses. He said that students who have not attained Level 2 qualifications usually have weak Chinese language skills. For example, in reading comprehension, they usually fail to understand the connotations of sentences and vocabulary. They can still interpret the literal meaning word on word, but their ability to group and divide phrases, and then summarize tends to be weak. He further said, “If one fails to pass Level 2 and becomes a police officer, it is recommended [that they] not to engage in clerical work.” He believes that in case they meet clients who also lack proper language skills, especially in the weakness of the latter’s ability of expression, when it is done poorly, it may affect the accuracy in the process of recording a confession, let alone the ability to understand complex legal concepts or vocabulary involved in police work.Relaxation in Entry Requirements Led to Surge in Number of ApplicantsIn May 2023, a number of measures were introduced to relax the entry requirements, including the removal of minimum height and weight. Mr. Tang revealed that in the eight months after the adjustment, the average monthly number of applicants for police constables, trainee inspectors, and police constables (auxiliary) were 644, 478, and 283, respectively, which was higher than the average monthly number of applicants in the eight months before the adjustment. The increase exceeded 80 percent, 90 percent, and 55 percent, respectively, which is a very significant uptick.852 Mainland HK Students Applied, 23 Accepted So FarIn addition to driving publicity and recruitment locally, the Police Force also launched its “Hong Kong Police University Recruitment Express (Mainland)” program in November 2022 to recruit Hong Kong students studying in the mainland to join the Police Force and facilitate them to return to Hong Kong to receive basic training as soon as they graduate. In addition to Beijing and Shanghai, it also had delegations to Wuhan, Guangdong, Fujian, and Chengdu for recruitment seminars for Hong Kong students studying in local universities, provided recruitment information, and arranged on-site interviews. A total of 2,898 mainland Hong Kong students participated in the relevant activities, and 852 people applied for the exam and participated in the selection process on the spot. A total of 266 applications for trainee inspectors, 551 police constables, and 35 auxiliary police officers were received. As of Dec. 31, 2023, 23 people had successfully been accepted to become police officers through this recruitment scheme, and another 746 candidates are in various stages of recruitment.On the other hand, the Police Force has long been conducting similar publicity and recruitment drives in overseas cities, such as London, Toronto, and Sydney, among others, through the Police Mentorship Programme (PMP). In 2018, it was expanded to include Hon

Difficulty to Recruit Police Officers in HK Leads to Lowering of Entry Standards, and Only 27.6 Percent of Applicants Qualified in English Requirement

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To find a solution to the issue of unfilled vacancies in the police force, the Hong Kong government, in May 2023, relaxed the entry requirements for police constables, police inspectors, and police constables (auxiliary). Among the relaxations put into practice, is another pathway to satisfy the language proficiency requirement, for those who did not gain a pass at level 2 of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE). However, as of the end of December 2023, the overall pass rate since its implementation, is less than 50 percent, while only 27.6 percent passed the English test.

It is long known that the police in Hong Kong earn higher than average salaries and benefits, and the entry requirements are relatively low, so joining the police force has long been an attractive career pathway for a lot of young secondary school graduates who do not perform too well academically at school. However, after the anti-extradition movement in 2019, it has become exceedingly difficult for the Hong Kong government to recruit police officers. It seems a lot of people are getting more reluctant to help enforce the notorious national security law (NSL) on the government’s behalf.

When Chris Tang Ping-keung, the Secretary for Security, responded to a question from one LegCo member on Jan. 10, 2024, he revealed that as of Dec. 31, 2023, 87 people had taken the “Recruit Police Constable (Chinese) Written Examination,” and 623 people had taken the English version test, of which 14 of the latter took both. The number of people who passed the Chinese part was 43, and 172 passed the English part, meaning the pass rates were 49.4 percent and 27.6 percent, respectively.

Mr. Tang claimed that the “Recruit Police Constable (Chinese/English) Written Examination” is based on Level 2 of the Chinese and English subjects of HKDSE, and the content of the assessment is adjusted more in line with the actual communication and interpretation needs of police officers on daily duty.

In May 2023, the Epoch Times interviewed one secondary school teacher who was teaching DSE Chinese language courses. He said that students who have not attained Level 2 qualifications usually have weak Chinese language skills. For example, in reading comprehension, they usually fail to understand the connotations of sentences and vocabulary. They can still interpret the literal meaning word on word, but their ability to group and divide phrases, and then summarize tends to be weak. He further said, “If one fails to pass Level 2 and becomes a police officer, it is recommended [that they] not to engage in clerical work.” He believes that in case they meet clients who also lack proper language skills, especially in the weakness of the latter’s ability of expression, when it is done poorly, it may affect the accuracy in the process of recording a confession, let alone the ability to understand complex legal concepts or vocabulary involved in police work.

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Relaxation in Entry Requirements Led to Surge in Number of Applicants

In May 2023, a number of measures were introduced to relax the entry requirements, including the removal of minimum height and weight. Mr. Tang revealed that in the eight months after the adjustment, the average monthly number of applicants for police constables, trainee inspectors, and police constables (auxiliary) were 644, 478, and 283, respectively, which was higher than the average monthly number of applicants in the eight months before the adjustment. The increase exceeded 80 percent, 90 percent, and 55 percent, respectively, which is a very significant uptick.

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852 Mainland HK Students Applied, 23 Accepted So Far

In addition to driving publicity and recruitment locally, the Police Force also launched its “Hong Kong Police University Recruitment Express (Mainland)” program in November 2022 to recruit Hong Kong students studying in the mainland to join the Police Force and facilitate them to return to Hong Kong to receive basic training as soon as they graduate. In addition to Beijing and Shanghai, it also had delegations to Wuhan, Guangdong, Fujian, and Chengdu for recruitment seminars for Hong Kong students studying in local universities, provided recruitment information, and arranged on-site interviews. A total of 2,898 mainland Hong Kong students participated in the relevant activities, and 852 people applied for the exam and participated in the selection process on the spot. A total of 266 applications for trainee inspectors, 551 police constables, and 35 auxiliary police officers were received. As of Dec. 31, 2023, 23 people had successfully been accepted to become police officers through this recruitment scheme, and another 746 candidates are in various stages of recruitment.

On the other hand, the Police Force has long been conducting similar publicity and recruitment drives in overseas cities, such as London, Toronto, and Sydney, among others, through the Police Mentorship Programme (PMP). In 2018, it was expanded to include Hong Kong students studying at overseas universities, and a total of 281 overseas students have joined the scheme, 40 of whom have joined the Police Force. In the past 12 months, it hired a total of 93 graduates from overseas institutions.

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