Serve and Protect Hong Kong 175 Years
6 January 2019
Some time ago, an article entitled “10 things Hong Kong does better than anywhere else” was published by the CNN of the United States. It listed Hong Kong’s ten unique strengths, including the rule of law, a simple tax regime with low tax rates, great convenience in daily life, a liveable city, sophisticated infrastructure, rich cultural characteristics, etc. The first line of the article reads: “How can you not love Hong Kong?”
The article pointed out from the outset that Hong Kong had good public order. The fact that we have for many years enjoyed the rule of law and good governance is undeniably attributable to our efficient and professional law enforcement. Hong Kong is also ranked first in Asia in terms of judicial independence.
In 2017, the overall crime figure of Hong Kong dropped by 7.6% over the previous year and was at a 42-year low since 1975, while the crime rate per 100 000 people was at a 46-year low since 1971. In 2018, the total number of crime cases for the first 11 months was 50 122, representing a decrease of 2.9% over the same period of 2017. Hong Kong ranked fourth in the world in terms of order and security in the 2017-18 Rule of Law Index released by the World Justice Project ― a fact that we should all be proud of.
Hong Kong is among the cities with the lowest crime rate in the world. The impressive performance of the Police Force in upholding law and order is there for all to see. As the key law enforcement agency in Hong Kong, the Force’s contribution can never be overstated.
This year marks the 175th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Police Force, which is a very memorable occasion. By keeping abreast of the times, the Force has developed into a professional and highly efficient disciplinary service.
Since its establishment in 1844, the Force has evolved from a small police service to a modern and visionary law enforcement agency. Currently, it has more than 36 500 regular and auxiliary police officers and civilian staff.
The education level of police officers has been ever rising. In the past ten years, all successful applicants of the post of Probationary Inspector possessed a qualification of university level or above. Last year, 22% of newly recruited Police Constables had a higher education qualification, up from 15% in 2007. Applicants came from diverse professional or academic disciplines, including law studies, international business administration, journalism and criminology.
There has been keen competition in the police recruitment exercises every year. In the past three years (2016-2018), we received, on average, more than 7 200 applications for Probationary Inspector and more than 11 000 applications for Recruit Police Constable each year. The average ratios were 40 applicants for a Probationary Inspector vacancy and 10 applicants for a Recruit Police Constable vacancy.
In addition to graduates of premier local and overseas tertiary institutions, there were also many non-ethnic Chinese people among the applicants. Since 2011, the Force has recruited over 70 non-ethnic Chinese Probationary Inspectors and Recruit Police Constables. I believe that the Police Recruitment Day (Winter) to be held this Saturday (12 January) is going to attract a massive turnout of young people aspiring to join the Force.
The Government is committed to promoting gender equality and the Force is no exception. There are currently about 5 000 female officers in the Force, accounting for 17.2% of the total number of police officers and rendering Hong Kong one of the major cities in the world having the highest percentage of women police officers. The percentage of women Inspectors has risen from 13% in 1990 to 29.8% in 2018, while the percentage of women Superintendents has soared from 2.8% in 1990 to 24.5%. From the first female Sub-inspector recruited in 1949 to the first female Deputy Commissioner of Police appointed in 2017, the status of women police officers has risen continuously, proving that women are just as competent as men.
The Force is tasked with the important responsibilities of maintaining law and order and combating crime. To ensure that police officers are able to fulfill their routine duties and deal with emergencies with confidence and professionalism, there should be a comprehensive and forward-looking induction and on-the-job training system.
The Force’s training system was re-organised in 2006. Under the enhanced system, the Hong Kong Police College (Police College) was established, replacing what was previously known as the Training Wing, to develop police training in a strategic manner, with a view to advancing into a leading centre of excellence in police training and development in the international arena. The Police College, now comprising the College Headquarters and three schools (namely the School of Foundation Training, the School of Professional Development and the School of Specialised Learning), provides sophisticated and comprehensive training and development programmes for police officers.
As early as 2010, the Force became the first government department to run Qualifications Framework (QF) accredited courses. Currently, it operates 11 QF accredited courses. Among them is the International Executive Development in Policing Programme (IEDPP) co-organised by the Force and the Canadian Police College for police managers in Hong Kong and Canada. Accredited to QF Level 6, which is equivalent to Master’s Degree level, by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications, the IEDPP has set a new milestone for the Police College.
In 2017, the Police College and the University of Cambridge in the UK began to jointly run a “Master of Studies in Applied Criminology and Police Management” programme, which is a two-year part-time programme specially designed for current and future leaders in law enforcement.
To establish more communication channels and maintain close contact with the public, the Force launched the “Hong Kong Police Facebook” page and the “Hong Kong Police Instagram” in 2015 and 2016 respectively in order to make the best use of web-based platforms and social media to promote Force events and disseminate anti-crime messages in a fun and engaging way.
Recently, the Force and the Fire Services Department worked together in an unprecedented effort to produce a short film featuring the popular character “Anyone” providing safety tips on the New Year Eve countdown for the general public on their Facebook pages.
The rule of law and good governance that we enjoy and our reputation as a safe city have not come easily, and would not have been achieved without the highly effective law enforcement in Hong Kong. Apart from the Force, the Immigration Department, the Customs and Excise Department, the Fire Services Department, the Correctional Services Department and the Government Flying Service are also valuable members of our disciplinary service. We now have over 60 000 members of the disciplinary forces serving the public in various capacities with dedication and excellence. We are indeed proud of what they have done to make Hong Kong a safe place to live and work in.
This Saturday (12 January), I will attend the Hong Kong Police Force 175th Anniversary Open Day, which will kickstart a series of celebration activities. Let us take the opportunity to pay tribute to our excellent Police Force for serving and protecting our city throughout the years.