Fewer people have been applying to Hong Kong’s disciplined services and more of its members have quit over the past five financial years, official figures show.
The number of applicants for 17 types of posts shrank 52 per cent from 93,300 in the financial year ending March 31, 2019, to 44,400 in 2022-23, figures from the Security Bureau submitted to the Legislative Council on Thursday revealed.
A total of 729 people from the six disciplined forces resigned in 2022-23, 44 per cent more compared with 507 in 2018-19.
Amid hiring difficulties, the force said it recruited 17 inspectors and 13 constables who were all 41 years old or above under a recruitment exercise called “never too late” in the previous financial year. Typically, the retirement age for the force is 55.
Among the 17 types of posts, four services are currently accepting applications year-round, including for police constable, inspector, immigration assistant and station officer (operational) under the Fire Services Department, while others carry out the recruitment process at different times during the year.
The Security Bureau submitted the figures to Legco at the request of lawmaker Kenneth Lau Ip-keung.
Applications for the police constable role fell nearly 58 per cent, from 10,578 in the financial year ending March 31 in 2019 to 4,392 in 2022-23. The 2018-19 figures were compiled before the 2019 anti-government protests.
Interest in the police inspector post also dropped by 57 per cent over the same period, from 7,350 applications to 3,186.
In 2022-23 an average of 10 candidates sought a police constable role, making it the least competitive position among all posts offered by the disciplined forces.
The starting salary for a constable, which is the most junior rank in the police force, is about HK$27,000 (US$3,440), while it is HK$48,000 for an inspector.
Immigration assistants, the second lowest-paying job among the positions, also saw a drop in applications from 20,423 to 7,758 over the five financial years.
Applications for customs inspector and immigration officer decreased by 50 and 64 per cent, respectively. The starting salary for the former is HK$45,000, while for the latter it is HK$42,000.
In the previous financial year, police recorded 217 resignations, the highest number among the six disciplined services and also the most since 391 were recorded in 2019-20, when the city was hit the social unrest.
Other services also experienced a rise in the number of resignations, such as the Fire Services Department, which saw 189 personnel quit in 2022-23, almost double the 92 recorded in 2018-19.
The Customs and Excise Department saw resignation numbers jump fourfold from 27 in 2018-19 to 111 in 2022-23.
A total of 42 police staff were dismissed over the last five financial years, with the figure being the highest among all disciplined services. The five other departments laid off fewer than eight employees each over the same period.
In a separate reply to Legco, Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu Chak-yee revealed the force in the previous financial year hired two constables who had not lived in Hong Kong for at least seven years.
Last April, the force scrapped a requirement for prospective candidates to be permanent residents and to have lived in the city continuously for at least seven years.
Siu also revealed the academic backgrounds of the police constables recruited in 2022-23, saying about 22 per cent had educational qualifications at a university level or above, 16 per cent had postsecondary credentials, 13 per cent at secondary level and 49 per cent were holders of the Yi Jin Diploma, an alternative pathway for students to obtain a formal qualification for employment and further studies.