The Hong Kong Police Force has distinguished itself as one of the oldest, yet most modern, police forces in the world.
Formed in 1844, the Force evolved from an extremely broad-based role, embracing such matters as fire-fighting, prisons and immigration, to that of a traditional police service. As at June 30, 2023, the Force has a strength of 27 185, of which 18 per cent are female officers. It also has 4 066 civilian staff.
The Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force (HKAPF) was originally formed in 1914 as a reserve to assist in times of natural disaster or civil emergency. As at June 30, 2023, the HKAPF comprises 3 203 volunteer citizens. The role of the Auxiliary Police has changed over time to keep pace with the changing environment. It is now a trained manpower reserve in support of the regular Force and is deployed in accordance with prevailing operational priorities as determined by the Commissioner of Police.
The Force is dedicated to safeguarding national security, protecting life and property, preventing and detecting crime, and maintaining law and order in the society. The Force always endeavours to enlist community support and maintain public confidence in the Force, with a view to ensuring Hong Kong remains one of the safest and most stable societies in the world.
Structure: The Force is commanded by the Commissioner of Police who is assisted by three Deputy Commissioners.
One Deputy Commissioner supervises all operational matters and one is responsible for the direction and co- ordination of the management of the Force, including personnel, training and management services. The third one is tasked with safeguarding national security.
The Force Headquarters is made up of six departments: Operations; Crime and Security; Personnel and Training; Management Services; Finance, Administration and Planning; and National Security. For daily policing, the whole Hong Kong territory is delineated into six Police Regions, namely Hong Kong Island, Kowloon East, Kowloon West, New Territories North, New Territories South and Marine. Respective Regional Headquarters comprise different Formations including criminal investigation, operations, administration and traffic (except Marine Region). Each Region also consists of several Districts where District Commanders are responsible for overseeing local policing issues. For law and order in the railway system, which runs across the territory, is vested with the Railway District under the command of Kowloon East Region.
The Marine Police, with a fleet of over 100police crafts, patrols some 1 641 km2 of waters within Hong Kong and 261 outlying islands. By adopting technologically advanced coastal security and radar systems and deploying high performance crafts, the Marine Police delivers effective and high quality services to the whole seafaring community in the territory. The Marine Police is also responsible for maintaining law and order within Hong Kong waters, including interdicting illegal immigration and cracking down on smuggling activities, conducting search and rescue operations, and engaging the seafaring community to enhance sea safety. The Marine Police also assists the Director of Marine in conducting security audits for the 37 International Shipping and Port Security facilities to effectively respond to terrorism or major maritime incidents. The Police fleet is currently undergoing an over $4 billion-worth of modernisation programme that includes the adoption of Marine Situational Awareness System to enhance co-ordination.
Operations: The Operations Department, comprising Operations Wing, Support Wing, Public Relations (PR) Wing and six Police Regions, is responsible for different operational matters.
Operations Wing is the Force policy holder of various operational issues including counter-terrorism, internal security, boundary security, bomb disposal, management of major events/ incidents, etc.
For Police Tactical Unit (PTU), the Force has a total of seven established companies and two training companies, providing essential manpower to perform crowd management duties during major events and respond to any emergency, alongside performing daily anti-crime operations and management of public events in Regions. PTU companies would also join with other units to form the Regional Response Contingents to provide rapid and effective response to major operations, large-scale public disorder situation and other emergencies. The PTU Headquarters is responsible for providing training on internal security, crowd management, major incident handling, etc., within the Force.
Support Wing oversees the Support Branch and Traffic Branch Headquarters (TBHQ).
The Support Branch is responsible for the formulation and execution of policies in relation to operational support and occupational safety and health for both the regular and auxiliary Forces. It is also responsible for various licensing functions of the Force and offering assistance to other relevant licensing authorities.
The TBHQ is responsible for formulating Force priorities, policies and procedures on traffic matters, co-ordinating their implementation and monitoring their effects. It processes all traffic prosecutions and collects and maintains traffic-related data. The TBHQ offers advice on traffic management matters and monitors local traffic schemes. It also formulates, supports and monitors road safety educational and enforcement programmes. Moreover, management of the Force fleet of over 2 800 vehicles and the driver cadre are also under its purview.
The PR Wing plays an important role in enlisting public support in maintaining law and order by engaging the community, leveraging technologies and social media platforms, as well as working in partnership with the media to foster good relations with all sections of the community. Information about police activities is disseminated to local and overseas media round the clock.
Inter-departmental Counter Terrorism Unit (ICTU) was set up in April 2018, comprising members from six law enforcement agencies, namely Customs and Excise Department, Correctional Services Department, Fire Services Department, Government Flying Service, Hong Kong Police Force and Immigration Department. ICTU is responsible for monitoring and analysing global terrorism trends and rendering strategic recommendations to the Secretary for Security on CT-related matters. ICTU also provides an inter-departmental platform to enhance coordination and analysis of CT intelligence amongst member departments. To foster closer liaison and smoother collaboration among relevant departments, ICTU also organises inter-departmental CT exercise and training, and promotes CT awareness through public education. ICTU manages the CT Reporting Hotline 63-666-999, which serves to encourage the public to provide terrorism or violence related information and promote the theme of ‘Spot and Report’ and ‘Whole-of-Community’ approach in CT. Those who have provided crucial information may get reward money under the existing reward mechanism.
Whilst daily patrol and anti-crime duties are covered by Patrol Sub-units and Emergency Units, respective Regional Command and Control Centres (RCCCs) are responsible for the coordination and deployment of Police resources within Regions. RCCCs would monitor all events/ incidents within the Regions, and keep Police Headquarters and other relevant Government departments informed of any significant matters.
Regional traffic units are responsible for road accident investigation, publicity on road safety and day-to-day traffic enforcement. The Traffic Warden Corps assists in enforcing laws relating to parking offences and idling vehicle engines as well as in regulating traffic.
Crime and Security: The Crime and Security Department is responsible for Force policies regarding the prevention and investigation of crimes and security matters. The Crime Wing consists of a number of operational bureaux and specialised support units. The operational bureaux deal with specific areas of criminal activities, whereas the specialised support units provide support services to various operational units in the Force and handle policy matters on issues including child abuse, domestic violence and witness protection. The Security Wing provides VIP protection, liaises with consulates and co-ordinates security operations, including counter-terrorism and related training.
The Critical Infrastructure Security Coordination Centre (CISCC) commits to strengthen critical facilities’ protection and resilience through risk management and public-private partnership. By instilling the concepts of Security-by-Design and providing professional security recommendations, CISCC aims to enhance critical facilities’ capacity in defence, response and recovery.
The Organized Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB) co- ordinates Force-wide resources in combating serious crimes such as human smuggling and trafficking in persons, syndicated vice, loansharking and unlawful debt collection, illegal bookmaking, firearms and explosives-related crimes as well as major public disorder situations, major disasters and terrorist attacks. It also investigates and targets all activities and crimes related to triad groups.
The Criminal Intelligence Bureau (CIB) is the Force’s central co-ordinating body for criminal intelligence. It works closely with the OCTB and other Crime Wing bureaux and provides support to police formations in targeting triads and organised crimes. To strengthen the criminal intelligence capability within the Force, the CIB also organises relevant training for frontline investigators.
The Commercial Crime Bureau investigates serious commercial and financial crimes, forgery of monetary instruments, identity documents, payment cards, currencies and coins. It collaborates closely with the Mainland and international law enforcement agencies on the exchange of intelligence and investigation requests in relation to relevant cross-jurisdictional crimes. It also adopts a strategic approach by engaging different sectors of the community through the enhanced use of social media and multi-agency co-operations on scam prevention initiatives. In May 2017, the Fraud and Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce was established in collaboration with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the Hong Kong Association of Banks and a number of local banks to enhance detection, prevention and disruption of serious financial crimes and money laundering threats in Hong Kong through regular meetings and intelligence exchange. To step up combat actions against deception and raise public awareness of various scams, the Anti-Deception Coordination Centre was set up in July in the same year to provide round-the-clock instant advisory services for the general public.
The number of technology crimes and cyber security incidents has continued to rise in recent years. The Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau (CSTCB) has been dedicated to further strengthen the Force’s capabilities in key areas including operations, digital forensics, training, intelligence and research to effectively combat technology crimes and safeguard the cyber security of Hong Kong. The Cyber Security Centre under the CSTCB provides round-the-clock cyber security protection for critical infrastructures in the sectors of government, banking and finance, transportation, communications and public utilities. CSTCB has also established the Cyber Range, which provides a safe and controlled virtual environment for training police officers and other cyber security practitioners. The environment provides a training platform for simulated cyber attack and defence scenarios, helping to develop professional competence of stakeholders in order to strengthen the safeguard of cyber security in Hong Kong.
The Narcotics Bureau (NB) investigates and gathers intelligence in relation to serious drug cases, in an endeavor to combat trafficking, manufacture, importation and distribution of illicit drugs. It also works in close partnership with the Mainland and overseas law enforcement agencies in a bid to combat international drug trafficking activities involving Hong Kong. It adopts a multi-agency and community-based approach to promote teenagers’ awareness of drug abuse.
The Financial Intelligence and Investigation Bureau (FIIB) investigates money laundering and terrorist financing cases, processes and analyses suspicious transaction reports, exchanges financial intelligence with other local and foreign law enforcement agencies and liaises with banks and other stakeholders. As a dedicated unit supporting the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the FIIB works closely with various stakeholders for anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism policy and legislation matters, strategic analysis, on-going territory-wide risk assessment as well as training and outreaching.
The Liaison Bureau (LB) maintains close liaison with the Mainland Public Security authorities, Police Liaison Department of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, Macao Police and Taiwan Police. The LB represents the Force as a Sub Bureau of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in China. It also co-ordinates police-related enquiries from overseas law enforcement units and local consulates as well as handles requests from overseas jurisdictions for mutual legal assistance and arrest and surrender of fugitives.
The Crime Support Group consists of specialised units which provide technical and professional services to support criminal investigation. These units include the Criminal Records Bureau, the Identification Bureau, the Forensic Firearms Examination Division, the Major Incident Investigation and Disaster Support System Unit, the Witness Protection Unit and the Family Conflict and Sexual Violence Policy Unit. In addition, the Crime Prevention Bureau provides security advisory services to the Government, the private sector and the general public. It promotes crime prevention initiatives through both conventional and social media. It also conducts crime prevention seminars, and closely liaises with the security industry and other stakeholders. The Crime Support Group also represents the Force in liaising with the Forensic Pathology Service of the Department of Health and the Forensic Science Division of the Government Laboratory.
The Crime Statistics Office under the Crime Wing Headquarters is responsible for collating and analysing crime statistics, and distributing relevant information to different units for their monitoring of the overall and specific crime trends and formulation of corresponding crime combating and prevention strategies. In addition, the Crime Wing Headquarters also works closely with the Security Bureau in formulating related policies and responding to relevant enquiries.
Personnel and Training: The Personnel Wing (P Wing) is responsible for all core human resources management functions, including recruitment, promotion, career development, conditions of service, discipline, staff relations and welfare matters.
People are the most valuable asset of the Force. To attract candidates of a high caliber to join the Force, the Recruitment Division of P Wing organises recruitment and publicity events of different nature, which include the Education & Careers Expo, Police Recruitment Days and careers talks. Between May 2021 and June 2023, the Recruitment Division held six Recruitment Experience & Assessment Days that combined recruitment and experiential elements, introducing police work and recruitment information to the general public through an interactive way. Participants could also make applications on-site.
The Recruitment Division launches different youth engagement projects, such as the Police Mentorship Programme, Police Mentorship Programme (Outreach), Project ACHIEVE, Auxiliary Undergraduate Scheme, and Sportsmen’s Programme for Recruitment, Experience and Development, to provide young people with the opportunity to meet serving police officers and understand the diversified nature of police work. The Police Mentorship Programme and the Police Mentorship Programme (Outreach) have been amalgamated into one Police Mentorship Programme in 2022/2023 with three streams, namely Police Mentorship Programme (Hong Kong), Police Mentorship Programme (Mainland), and Police Mentorship Programme (Overseas) for local Hong Kong students and those in the Mainland and overseas respectively, inspiring them to join the Force upon graduation.
To facilitate applications from university students, the Force organised a ‘Police University Recruitment Express – Hong Kong’ at 11 institutes across Hong Kong between September and October 2022. Students could apply on the spot for the positions of police constable, probationary inspector and auxiliary police constable, and undergo the selection process on campus as well. Serving officers who were alumni of the universities also shared their experiences with the students.
To recruit Hong Kong students living on the Mainland and facilitate the start of their police foundation training after graduation, the Force sent a delegation of Recruitment Division personnel, Police College instructors and Recruitment Spokespersons in 2022 and 2023 to conduct the ‘Hong Kong Police University Recruitment Express – Mainland’ on the Mainland by visiting Guangdong, Fujian, Beijing and Wuhan. The delegation dispensed recruitment information and selected candidates on-site.
With a view to encouraging serving officers to inspire those around them to join the Force, the Recruitment Division launches the Police Recruitment Buddies scheme. The scheme aims at encouraging serving officers to identify, inspire and encourage their family members and friends to make applications, attracting new blood for the Force. In addition, the Recruitment Division launches the Non-ethnic Chinese (NEC) Referral System, which refers NEC applicants who have yet to pass the recruitment selection process to join the engagement programmes organised by different Police Districts. It aims at better equipping the applicants for joining the Force by enhancing their confidence and competency.
The Recruitment Division regularly reviews the recruitment policy to attract high-calibre candidates. Starting from April 1 2022, the Hong Kong residency requirement for police constable, inspector, and auxiliary police constable, i.e. ‘has lived in Hong Kong for at least seven years’, has been removed. Applicants are only required to fulfil the criterion of being ‘a permanent resident of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’. With effect from May 5 2023, the entry requirements for recruit police constable, probationary inspector and auxiliary police constable have been adjusted: (i) The minimum height and weight requirements were lifted to align with that of the other disciplined services; (ii) The requirement to undergo unaided visual acuity test was removed. An applicant who passes the test with the use of spectacles or contact lenses will be deemed to have met the required eyesight standard. The requirement for colour perception test remains unchanged; and (iii) The Recruit Police Constable Written Examination (Written Examination) was introduced to provide applicants with an alternative way to meet the language proficiency requirements. The Written Examination, comprised of elements of police work, was tailor-made for applicants of recruit police constable. An applicant passing the Written Examination is deemed to have met the recruit police constable language proficiency requirements, and the result is permanently valid.
The recruitment theme of the Force in 2023/24 is ‘Their Call, Your Calling’, hoping to let the public know how the Force could take good care of people in need. Five ‘Recruitment Spokespersons’ of different backgrounds were selected, and related recruitment videos and posters under the theme were also produced to enhance publicity.
The P Wing is at the forefront in the promotion of a healthy and a caring culture both within and beyond the Force. In 2023, the Force was awarded the 15 Years Plus Caring Organisation Logo from the Hong Kong Council of Social Service in recognition of its on-going commitment in caring for its employees, the community and the environment, and thereby demonstrating good corporate social responsibility.
With regards to community work, the Hong Kong Police Volunteer Services Corps, with its 23 police volunteer teams, provides over 23 000 hours of service to the community during the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022.
The Hong Kong Police College (HKPC) comprises headquarters and three schools, namely the School of Foundation Training, the School of Professional Development and the School of Specialised Learning. The HKPC is committed to equipping officers with the necessary attitude, knowledge and skills to serve Hong Kong with honor, duty and loyalty.
The School of Foundation Training provides recruit and professional training for trainees in capacity and mindset building to meet frontline operational needs. In 2020, the HKPC became the first non-tertiary education institution and government department in attaining the Programme Area Accreditation status, which entrusted the HKPC to internally accredit the Force’s courses in Law Enforcement and Security Studies Programme Area up to Qualifications Framework Level 5. Thus far, the HKPC has internally accredited/ re-accredited 18 Force’s programmes through robust Quality Assurance Mechanism and Internal Learning Programme Accreditation System.
The School of Professional Development fosters in-service learning and provides local, Mainland and overseas vocational, professional and executive training programmes on varied contemporary policing-related subjects by proactively seeking external collaborations with other law enforcement agencies, universities and institutions. Commencing in 2021, the HKPC and Tsinghua University have launched a 2.5-year part-time Executive Master of Public Administration Programme for police officers and other disciplinary services. Upon travel resumption after the COVID-19 pandemic, the HKPC continues to explore new learning opportunities with a view to solidifying officers’ understanding of national affairs and development strategies, as well as strengthening their professional ability.
The School of Specialised Learning, comprising three functional Divisions and four Centres, provides a variety of specialised and competency training such as detective training, police driving and traffic training, instructor training, language training and psychological competency training. With a strong commitment to professional standards, the HKPC harnesses technology and renders continuous support to facilitate best practice sharing, knowledge management, and informal innovations to optimise training capacity.
The College Headquarters (HQs) is responsible for formulating strategic training plans, quality assurance, administrative and human resources matters, as well as co-ordinating the appointment of academia and experts as Honorary College Advisors to leverage independent advices and expertise in different areas of policing-related matters. The HQs also regularly reviews police training facilities of the HKPC. In July 2022, the Legislative Council approved funding for construction of the new Police Training Facilities in Kong Nga Po, which aims to consolidate and relocate several scattered police training facilities across New Territories with a view to garnering synergy in training and meanwhile releasing various sites in Kwu Tung and Fanling for housing or other uses. The construction works have been ongoing and the new HKPC Intergrated Training Centre is expected to be fully in use by end of 2026.
Building on a solid foundation, the HKPC continues to have scooped a number of local and international awards, including the Global and Hong Kong Most Innovative Knowledge Enterprise (MIKE) Awards 2022, one Bronze Award in the Learning Technologies Awards 2022, one Bronze Award in the Galaxy Awards 2022, one Honors Award in the Astrid Awards 2023, and one Silver and one Bronze Awards in Questar Awards 2023. The Force has also been continuously awarded the Manpower Developer by the Employee Retraining Board since 2013.
Management Services: The Management Services Department is underpinned by the Information Systems Wing as well as the Service Quality Wing.
The Information Systems Wing is comprised of the Digital Policing Services Bureau, Innovation and Solution Lab (ISLAB), Information Technology Branch and Communications Branch.
The Digital Policing Services Bureau, consisting of the Digital Services Division, E-Police Division, Systems Security and Support Division and Major Systems Division, formulates and co-ordinates the digital policing blueprint and initiatives and is also responsible for information security of the Force. It assists the Force to enhance its operational efficiency, optimise work processes and provide more convenient policing services through delivery of a wide range of digital solutions such as e-services and mobile applications.
The ISLAB is responsible for strengthening the Force’s innovation and technology application capability in this digital age. Currently, it concentrates its work in five key areas, namely digital transformation, data analytics, software and system technology, mobile technology and mobile application, and emerging technologies. Through working with various stakeholders and the adoption of co-creation methodology, ISLAB helps the Force to drive innovation and embrace the use of technology. The Information Technology Branch is responsible for the planning, development, implementation and maintenance of information technology application systems, covering infrastructure and facility, administration systems, operation communications solutions and operations systems, to provide excellent support to the daily operation of the Force and all Force members.
The Communications Branch designs, acquires, maintains and develops all Force communications networks and equipment including radio, video, navigational aids, speed detection radar, mobile phones, office telephones and firing range equipment. It also runs the Information and Communications Network Management Centre, which provides 24/7 emergency support to the Force information and communications facilities.
The Service Quality Wing is responsible for spearheading initiatives to improve services provided to both the public and members of the Force and steer excellence in service delivery and quality management Force-wide. The Wing comprises three branches: the Performance Review Branch (PRB), the Research and Inspections Branch (RIB) and the Complaints and Internal Investigations Branch (C&IIB).
The PRB is responsible for developing the Force Strategic Management Framework, staffing the cyclic Strategic Directions and Strategic Action Plans, promoting the Force values and implementing the Force Strategy on Quality of Service.
The RIB is responsible for co-ordinating all general inspection activities as well as conducting thematic studies on issues that may impact on the operation, management and image of the Force.
The C&IIB includes the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO), the Internal Investigations Office (IIO) and the Integrity Audit Action Group (IAAG). The CAPO is responsible for the investigation and follow-up action of all complaints made by the public against members of the Force. The CAPO’s investigation and handling of reportable complaints is observed, monitored and reviewed by the Independent Police Complaints Council to ensure that all complaints against the Police are fully and impartially investigated. The IIO is responsible for the investigation and monitoring of allegations of serious misconduct and corrupt activities against members of the Force, as well as the promotion of the Force Integrated Integrity Management Framework to reinforce the Force values. The IAAG conducts proactive investigation against serious misconducts and illegal activities involving Force members, timely identifies and rectifies duty- related systemic risks, and enhances the supervisory accountability.
Finance, Administration and Planning: The Finance Wing is responsible for the financial management, forensic accounting and support services, stores management and internal audit of the Force. The Administration Wing looks after the management of civilian staff and Force establishment matters. The Planning and Development Branch (P&D) is responsible for the strategic property planning of the Force. The P&D plans and develops the existing and future Police buildings and facilities to meet public expectation and promote sustainable development through monitoring the infrastructural development and population growth in Hong Kong and the operational needs of the Force. It also oversees large-scale maintenance and improvement programmes for all existing Police buildings and facilities to ensure proper maintenance and to enhance their quality, standards, security and operational efficiency.
National Security: The National Security Department (NSD) is responsible for collecting and analysing intelligence and information concerning national security; planning, coordinating and enforcing measures and operations for safeguarding national security; investigating offences endangering national security; conducting counter-interference investigation and national security review; carrying out tasks of safeguarding national security assigned by the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR; and performing other duties and functions necessary for the enforcement of the National Security Law.
While operating a hotline for the public to provide information or report cases concerning national security, the NSD created a WeChat official account on 1 August 2022 for disseminating national security-related information. Over 500 000 pieces of information have been received since the hotline commenced operation.