LEGCO Paper No. CB(2) 1578 /95-96
(The minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref :CB2/PS/4/95

LegCo Panel on Security
Subcommittee on the Police Management Review

Minutes of Meeting
held on Tuesday, 30 April 1996 at 2:30 p.m.
in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon James TO Kun-sun (Chairman)
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee

Members Absent :

    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung *
    Hon HO Chun-yan *

Public Officer Attending :

Mr Philip CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security
Mr Anthony LI
Assistant Secretary for Security
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Support)
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Service Quality)
Mr CHEUNG Chi-shum
Chief Superintendent of Police (Traffic)
Chief Superintendent of Police (Public Relations)
Senior Superintendent of Police (Support)

Staff in Attendance :

    Mrs Sharon TONG Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 1

I. Withdrawal of member

The Chairman informed the meeting that Hon Andrew CHENG Ka-foo had withdrawn from this Subcommittee due to heavy commitments.

II. Police Management Review Reports

Public Relations Branch (Report No. 33/93)

2. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr E J LOCKEYEAR briefed members on the implementation of the report. He advised that the report had almost been adopted in its entirety. Of the 21 recommendations contained in the report, 18 had been fully implemented. One had been partially implemented. One had been agreed and pending for the creation of posts. Recommendation No. 6 which sought to create one Information Officer post in the Community Relations Bureau had been rejected by the Director of Information Services (DIS) on the ground that the post was non-media related. Recommendation No. 7 had been partially implemented in that a feasibility study on incorporating the hotline service of the Police Public Relations Branch (PPRB) into the Force Directory Inquiry System had been conducted. But the suggestion was not agreed because the hotline was not purely a public enquiry service in nature. Through the hotline police officers might be getting information from the public and therefore it was considered desirable to retain the hotline. Concerning recommendation No. 17 which proposed the creation of 4 Assistant Information Officers (AIOs) posts to man the PPRB Newsroom, Mr LOCKEYEAR said that as AIO was a trainee rank, it had been agreed with DIS that officers of a more senior rank were preferred. Approval in principle had now been given to create 2 IO posts instead. Apart from the above recommendations, Mr LOCKEYEAR added, all the other recommendations had been accepted and implemented.

3. In response to Mrs Selina CHOW’s enquiry concerning the staffing of the TV and Films Liaison Section, Mr LOCKEYEAR replied that the production of films was done at Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), which provided the facilities and technical staff. Prior researches for the production and in some cases the programme presentations were done by police officers. The time-slots for “Crime Watch” and “Police Magazine” were half an hour. Since filming was a slow process and police officers in the section also undertook other duties such as licensing, issuing permits for commercial film-making companies, preparation of internal films and documentaries etc., there was enough work to keep the officers busy. Regarding the legal requirements for film shooting, Mr LOCKEYEAR advised that to simply shoot a film in public did not require a police permit. The only requirement being there was no obstruction or danger to the public. However, if the shooting involved the use of police uniforms, or in general terms the display, carry, use or discharge of what appeared to be firearms, a permit from PPRB was required. Very often film makers might wish to make changes to the scripts, making it necessary for PPRB to reassess their applications. As members were concerned about whether the time taken for an application to be processed was reasonable, the Chairman asked Mr LOCKEYEAR to provide after the meeting figures for the past few years on the number of applications received and the time required for their processing.


4. On the issue of government assistance given to the film-making industry, Mr LOCKEYEAR said that in co-operation with DIS, a Guide to Filming in Hong Kong for Commercial Film Companies, which set out various useful information and requirements, had recently been produced. Mrs CHOW remarked that she had heard of complaints from local film-makers that their foreign counterparts were more favourably treated in seeking government help.

5. In reply to Mr Bruce LIU’s enquiry, Mr LOCKEYEAR said that they had a good working relationship with RTHK. The time slots allocated for RTHK programmes were usually decided after negotiation with the commercial channels. He considered that currently the air-times for their programmes, which fell mostly on Saturdays and Sundays, were good.

6. Responding to Mr LIU’s question concerning the PPRB hotline service, Mr LOCKEYEAR said that it was essential to have Police Constables to take charge of the system in order to cover a 24-hour response. The hotline had been a very useful resource, which resulted in over 13,000 arrests over the years of its operation. Even the organised Crime and Triad Hotline which was incorporated into the present PPRB Hotline last year had recorded nearly 1,000 calls with information related to organised crime. This showed a great public input. As to the Japanese Hotline, he considered it not a good public relations move to drop it. In fact, it involved only minimal additional resources as the officer who man the hotline also did other jobs as required. Regarding the telephone number for the PPRB Hotline, negotiation with the Telephone Company was underway with a view to getting a simple, easy to remember number. The Recruitment Hotline, on the other hand, received calls both day and night. During day time, it was switched to the Police Recruitment Office. At outside office hours, it would be directed to the office in the PPRB Newsroom, aided by an Interactive Voice Response System.

7. Referring to the concern expressed by Mrs CHOW over the future direction of the Junior Police Call (JPC), Mr LOCKEYEAR assured that every effort would be made to maintain its initiative. The review in question was the fifth in five years. Amongst the recommendations, the need to develop ex-JPC members, who were civilian volunteers, as JPC leaders were adopted. The establishment of more school clubs was also agreed. Over the past few years, the number of school clubs had increased significantly by 30%. However, the proposal to do away with district clubhouses was not agreed as it was thought that in so doing the total focus of the scheme would be lost, since these clubhouses used to serve as the central points for JPC members to meet and get to know each other. The recommendation in the study that JPC Units could in the long-term be incorporated into other youth organisations was not adopted as it would amount to disbanding the JPC and losing its identity.

8. Mrs CHOW expressed worry that there might be insufficient resources to maintain the JPC clubhouse, prompting the need for outside donations, and as a result having to compromise on the scheme’s intended aims and priorities. Mr LOCKEYEAR replied that at present there were a total of 25 clubhouses within the 20 districts of the Force. The overall administration of JPC was maintained centrally within PPRB. JPC did work together with other organisations for special events and sometimes resort to donations from sponsors. The need for donations, however, varied among districts. Overall, JPC had adequate manpower and resources to maintain its present strength and in achieving its objectives.

9. On a further question by Mrs CHOW , Mr LOCKEYEAR advised that currently there were 185,000 active JPC members and just under 32,000 leaders. Members having reached the upper age limit of 21 (25 for leaders) were automatically deleted from the membership. The total number of youngsters who had joined at one time or another was approximately 650,000.

10. The Chairman opined that he had reservations about the need to involve nearly 70 police officers full time in JPC’s activities. He felt that there should be other more cost-effective means to achieve the tasks, without sacrificing the connection of JPC with the Force. Mr LIU enquired if it was possible to strengthen civilianisation by seeking the assistance of people with social work training in JPC’s work . He also felt that it was worthwhile to allocate more government financial resources on a recurrent basis in launching JPC activities. He requested that the current annual figures in this connection be provided for information. Mrs CHOW expressed that it was important to sustain the original intent on which the JPC was formed, and as such the Force should not withdraw totally from the scheme. She agreed with Mr LIU that more financial support from the government should be sought. While appreciating members’ concern, Mr LOCKEYEAR stressed that JPC was important for getting feedback from the community on the work of the Force in combating and preventing crime, by involving the participation of the youth. But as JPC was only part of an overall community relations programme of the Force, care must be taken to decide how resources should be divided up.


11. On Mr LIU’s query regarding staff turnover within PPRB, Mr LOCKEYEAR clarified that Police Community Relations Officers worked in districts and their transfers were at the discretion of the respective Regional Commanders, having regard to the need to maintain continuity. The average posting of these officers was for a few years. Concerning the suggestion to upgrade the rank of Chief Staff Officer, Public Relations (Inspection Services Wing) to the level of Assistant Commissioner of Police, he confirmed that a decision had been taken to leave the rank at Chief Superintendent of Police level.

12. The Chairman relayed a feedback from the media and other sources which criticised the seemingly unhelpful attitude of Information Officers at PPRB, who for example often required the caller to put their requests in writing. Mr LOCKEYEAR expressed that this might be due to the heavy workload of the staff, who normally handled about 600 press queries a day, along with other public enquiries. But DIS did not consider it a priority to create extra manpower at the moment. To help relieve pressure generated from verbal calls, they were resorting to the use of more technical aids such as expanding the statistical database in their computer system as well as a fax modum to fax replies straight back to the callers. On the Chairman’s feedback, Mr LOCKEYEAR undertook to look into the matter.


13. Mrs CHOW questioned whether it was appropriate that the production of the Force’s newsletter “Offbeat” should be in the hands of PPRB. Mr LOCKEYEAR explained that, apart from internal dissemination of information, Offbeat also fulfilled the role of a public newspaper. It encouraged community relationship. The publication was picked up widely by media both locally and overseas and the demand for which was expanding. He furthered that Offbeat would be put on Internet shortly and by then there would be two versions of Offbeat, an electronic and a paper one. At present, a total publication of 30,000 copies were distributed within the Force, and sent to every retired police officer world-wide, all government departments and non-government organisations, pressure groups, the local media as well as those overseas media requesting it. The Chairman asked that Members of the LegCo be put on the distribution list.

(Post-meeting Note: The LegCo Secretariat has regularly received copies of The Offbeat. A copy of the publication on receipt has been distributed to Members of the LegCo except those Members who have indicated their wish not to be on the distribution list.)

14. Mrs CHOW referred to the option, for possible resource savings, to employ an outside agency to produce Offbeat. Mr LOCKEYEAR responded that this might lead to a lower standard of the publication and a sacrifice of editorial control. To uphold the editorial policy, therefore, internal editorial staff would still be needed to provide directions for the contractor. He was of the opinion that the savings, if any, might not justify the change.

Traffic Formations (Report No. 10/93)

15. The Chairman sought an update on the implementation of the report. Mr CHEUNG Chi-shum informed that the 388 recommendations contained in the report were adopted in principle. In particular, the proposed creation of more than 230 new posts as a result of the recommendations would be implemented in the next financial year, subject to approval of resources. The additional manpower would be allocated mainly in the NT South, NT North and Kowloon East Regions.

16. Members were surprised why resources for the creation of the posts had to be further justified as it was understood that every post recommendated had been examined in detail collectively by the Force, the Security and the Finance Branches, and agreed upon. Mr Philip CHAN replied that as the study was made three years ago, circumstances and priorities might have changed over time. In view of the huge financial implications involved, it was necessary to decide carefully what were the most pressing areas in which new resources should be put. He reckoned that the adopted recommendations should be implemented at the earliest opportune time.

17. Mrs CHOW emphasised that members should be informed of how far the Administration had gone about achieving the objectives of the adopted report, albeit there might be some minor fine-tuning during the process of implementation. At members’ request, Mr Philip CHAN undertook to provide a report covering the efforts made in the past few years in implementing the report as well as setting out what anticipated progress would be made.


18. In reply to Mr LIU’s enquiry, Mr CHEUNG said that effective last year, a tow truck was made available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day at the Tuen Mun and Tolo Highways, which were the roads mostly used by container trucks, to provide towing service to move vehicles of up to 24 tons. At other locations, towing facilities would be sought nearby when required. The time required to clear the road varied in situations. For example, it would take a much longer time to remove a turned container truck that was fully ladden. Apart from the various lifting and towing capabilities available, traffic management measures was also adopted which included the setting up of weighbridges to detect overloading; enlisting the urgent assistance from towing trucks that happened to be travelling at the scene etc. Very often the lack of a hard shoulder on many of the roads made things difficult and might cause congestion when an accident occurred. If situation warranted, tow trucks would be provided at busy border crossing points like Lok Ma Chau. But he remarked that the costs for maintaining a stand-by tow truck was high, amounting to nearly $1 million per year. Mr J H WALKER supplemented that they would continue to negotiate with the various departments and groups for the most satisfactory recovery facilities.

19. Mr CHEUNG noted Mr LIU’s concern about introducing legislation requiring vehicle drivers involved in minor accidents with no injuries to remove their vehicles immediately so as to reduce unnecessary obstruction. He said that consultation on the issue had already taken place between the Force and the Transport Department and a consensus was yet to be reached.

20. Responding to the Chairman’s observation on illegal parking at night, Mr CHEUNG said that the Administration was well aware of the problem of insufficient parking space and therefore a degree of tolerance was exercised in dealing with this type of offences. The Administration was exploring the possibility of opening up more car parks in government buildings and demarcating parking zones in designated areas for public night parking.

21. Referring to the problem of illegal road racing raised by Mr LIU, Mr CHEUNG pointed out that the problem had become less serious in recent years. But the Force was making every effort to tackle the issue. Special measures, such as radar detection and video recording in unmarked police vehicles, were taken to crack down on the offences. The respective Regional Task Forces would initiate prosecutions against the offenders. The Chairman remarked that, owing to the difficulty of establishing in court a genuine case of illegal car-racing, consideration could be given to reviewing and refining the existing legal provisions and imposing higher penalties for related offences in order to achieve a desirable deterrent effect. Mr CHEUNG noted the suggestion.

22. Mrs CHOW enquired about the progress regarding the recommendation relating to the handling of public complaints. Mr CHEUNG said that the target was that every complaint would be investigated and followed up. In many cases this had not been achieved as the complainant might refuse to come forward and give statements. Efforts were being made, therefore, to encourage complaintants to act as witnesses by reducing, as far as practicable, the inconveniences that might be caused to them. He further advised that the one on one report system, as it was considered uneconomical , was dropped.

23. On the progress of implementation of privatisation of parking metres enforcement, Mr CHEUNG said that a feasibility study had been conducted within the Force and privatisation was agreed. The matter was now with the Transport Branch for further examination. The Chairman said that it was difficult to quantify the savings on police manpower as a result of privatisation since Police Constables still had to take on their normal patrol duties, although possibly some savings could be achieved in the time spent in issuing tickets. Mr CHEUNG acknowledged the point.

24. Replying to Mr LIU’s enquiry on the Fixed Penalty Ticket (FPT) system, Mr CHEUNG stated that out of the some 800 offences under the existing traffic legislation, about 10% were fixed penalties, 60 of them were related to illegal driving and 21 to parking. Liaison of the Force with the Transport Branch and the Legal Department was taking place to see if it was possible to simplify the existing FPT system so as to make it more easily understandable by the public.

25. Mrs CHOW asked if there was any connection between meter enforcement privatisation and the review of the functions and composition of the Traffic Warden Corps. Mr CHEUNG said that the proposals pertaining to the former had been agreed while the latter was only recently completed. He advised that a large part of the Traffic Wardens’ duties were not related to meter enforcement, as indicated by the fact that only about 10% of the tickets issued by them were meter offences. A wide range of other operational duties linked with traffic management and control were performed by Traffic Wardens and therefore demand for their services remained strong despite privatisation of meter enforcement.

Support Wing (Report No. 36/93)

26. At the Chairman’s invitation, Mr S H ROBINS briefed members on the progress of implementation of the report as follows:

  1. “Traffic Wing” had been renamed to “Traffic Branch”. A decision was still awaited on the proposed transfer of Transport Branch into Support Wing (Recommendation 1).
  2. A Department Establishment Committee (DEC) Paper had been completed for the creation of the post of Chief Staff Officer, Support. It was hoped that a decision could be made in July this year (Recommendation 3).
  3. A complete review had been made on staff necessary to maintain the Police Headquarters (PHQ) Phase 2 development and as a result the staff requirements were revised to 10 Police Constables, 30 workmen and 2 Foremen. DEC papers had been submitted and approved and recruitments were underway. The only query received was in relation to the expansion of the PHQ Security Unit which required one barrack sergeant. It was questioned whether this could be civilianised. Extra justification maintaining the preference for a disciplined post had been supplied (Recommendation 6).
  4. The responsibility for Co-ordinating arrangements of Non-VIP Visitors had been passed to PPRB (Recommendation 7).
  5. The number of new posts included in Recommendations 15, 21, 22, 23 and 24 respectively would be considered in year five of the report, i.e. year 1999-2000.
  6. New procedures regarding the endorsement of requests for Force portable phones and pagers had been implemented (Recommendation 19).

27. In reply to the Chairman’s question on whether it was value for money of spending $90 million a year on repair of all police vehicles, Mr WALKER said that as the Unit concerned had not yet come under the Support Wing, he undertook to provide a written answer after the meeting.


28. Concerning crowd management during major organised functions, Mr WALKER clarified that consequent to the adoption of Recommendation 18 of the report, the Operations Wing now dealt with all policies regarding the policing commitments arising from these specific events, while the Support Wing was responsible for other general policy matters related to the Public Order Ordinance.

III. Date of Next Meeting and Items for Dission

29.The next meeting would be held on 3 June 1996 at 4:30 p.m. to study the following reports:

- Marine Police Region (Step I) (Report No. 3/92)

- Marine Police Region (Step II) (Report No. 38/93)

- Police Dog Unit (Report No. 26/93)

30. There being no other business, the meeting ending at 4:20 p.m.

LegCo Secretariat
28 August, 1996

* -- Other Commitments

Last Updated on 21 Aug, 1998