Hong Kong police are seeking to enrol elite athletes to join the force, the police chief has said. It comes as the police recruitment rate rebounded in the first half of 2021, following a dip over the past two years.

The new Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu told Sing Tao Daily on Tuesday that the force will help the city’s retired athletes and those nearing retirement increase their chances of enrolment.

Raymond Siu
Hong Kong Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu. Photo: Hong Kong Police, via Facebook.

Siu, who was promoted from deputy police chief in late June, said the force will provide assistance to athletes through the Elite Athletes Strategic Engagement Scheme. The programme – launched in 2016 – aims at recruiting athletes as ambassadors, with workshops to help them understand the daily operations of the force as well as training to boost the leadership skills of the participants.

The police chief said the programme has allowed its internal sports clubs to touch base with professional athletes over the past few years and understand their future plans. If the sportsmen and sportswomen showed interest in joining the force, the clubs’ personnel would offer help by giving tips on what to look out for in the police selection test and ability training.

“I believe the advantages athletes have are their physical fitness and discipline… [They] have certain qualities which can help them enter the force,” Siu said.

Team Hong Kong at the Tokyo Olympics
Team Hong Kong at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China.

The police commissioner added that more than 60 police officers in service were former members of the Hong Kong representative teams. Among them was squash player Annie Au Wing-chi, who retired last March after representing the city for a decade. She was the highest-ranked female player in Hong Kong and had won a team gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games.

In response to HKFP enquiries, the Hong Kong Athletes Career and Education Programme (HKACEP) Office said it welcomed all career development opportunities which allow local athletes to “continue to contribute to society after their athletic retirement.”

The HKSI, meanwhile, said there are programmes organised by different sporting authorities to help athletes pursue a career after retirement: “[A]thletes are free to choose [programmes] according to their own will and interest,” the sports institute said.

Recruitment rise

In his interview, Siu said the number of applications the force received between January and June this year rose by 10 per cent compared to the figures in the latter half of 2020. Without stating the actual number, Siu said police saw close to a 50 per cent increase in the number of new recruits from the first half of 2021.

police college academy passing-out parade
A passing-out parade held at the Hong Kong Police College on July 10, 2021. Photo: GovHK.

Police organised a recruitment day at the police college in Wong Chuk Hang in May, which was their first large-scale recruitment activity since the 2019 pro-democracy protests and unrest. Superintendent Baron Chan of the police recruitment unit said at the time that the force aimed to enrol 1,545 personnel, including 195 probationary inspectors and 1,350 police constables.

The police college will organise another recruitment day at the end of August and in November, Siu said.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.