HK po­lice to re­cruit 900 frontline of­fi­cers

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By CAR­RIE QIU in Hong Kong car­rieqiu@chi­nadai­

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.

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