HK police to recruit 900 frontline officers
The Hong Kong Police Force plans to recruit around 900 new frontline officers to deal with the increased regularity of public assemblies which were also becoming more violent, the city’s police chief said on Tuesday.
The proposed increase in police numbers, once approved, will be the largest since Hong Kong’s reunification with the nation in 1997.
The new frontline recruits will be assigned primarily to emergency and tactical units, which are responsible for handling large-scale events, Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung said on Tuesday while attending a district council meeting.
The request awaits government approval before the police can hire the new staff. It is projected to cost the government more than HK$200 million in annual expenditures.
Lo said that the increasing likelihood of confrontation in public assemblies was one of the factors that led to the decision. Other key factors include the growing complexities of global terrorism and population growth in the city, Lo said.
Currently, the police force has 33,945 employees. It employed 35,072 members in 1999 — the largest ever, police statistics show.
The proposed expansion came 10 months after the Mong Kok riot in the Chinese New Year, which injured 220 people including 90 police officers.
However, some have questioned the proposal because Lo announced it amid a decline of the number of overall crimes in Hong Kong. According to the police’s midyear report released months ago, the number of overall crimes in the first half of this year fell 13.2 percent.
Criminology expert Oliver Chan Heng-choon rebutted the critics. “Crime figures will rise or fall. The figure of the first half of the year could not be simply translated into ‘no more police force needed’,” said the assistant professor at City University of Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, being Asia’s financial hub with a high population density, Hong Kong is always on the terrorists’ target list, Chan told China Daily. He praised the Hong Kong police for keeping Hong Kong safe so far.