Subcommittee on the Police Management Review (Minutes) 11 November 1996

LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 912/96-97
(These 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 Monday, 11 November 1996 at 8:30 a.m.
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

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

Members Absent :

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

Public Officers Attending :

Mr Philip CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security
Mr Howard CHAN
Assistant Secretary for Security
Mr LEE Ming-kwai
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations)
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Service Quality)
Mr NG Wai-kit
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Personnel) (Acting)
Mr AU Yiu-kwan
Chief Superintendent of Police (Personnel Services)
Mr LAM Cheong-yee, Eric
Chief Executive Officer
(Establishment & Civilian Staff Relations)
Mr LAM Kin-keung
Chief Executive Officer (Personnel & General)
Miss TANG Lai-wah, Lavinia
Senior Treasury Accountant/Finance Control

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Sharon TONG
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 1

Staff in Attendance :

Mr Paul WOO
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 5

I. Election of Chairman


Hon James TO Kun-sun was elected Chairman of the Subcommittee.

The Chairman welcomed Mr TSANG Kin-shing, a new member of the Subcommittee, to the meeting.

II. Police Management Review Reports

Operations Wing and Vietnamese Detention Centres (Report No. 7/92)

At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr LEE Ming-kwai briefed members on the implementation of the report :

(a) Most of the recommendations related to the Operations Bureau had been adopted, except a few items which were still under consideration. For example, the proposal to co-locate the Police Constables (PC) assigned to the Anti Illegal Immigration Control Centre (AIICC) in the Communications Centre (Comcen) with a view to utilising manpower resources more efficiently was not agreed by the Police on the ground that the nature of work of AIICC and Comcen differed significantly.

(b) One PC post in AIICC involving statistical and clerical duties had been civilianised.

(c) The title for the Staff Officer, Counter Terrorism Section was changed to better reflect the scope of work which also covered internal security matters.

(d) Following the closure of Tai A Chau Detention Centre in September 1996 and the Vietnamese migrants being transferred to the Whitehead Detention Centre, the relevant posts had been redeployed to other areas within the Force.

(e) Since 1992,a professional search capability had been developed to take over the search responsibility from the British military prior to the Garrison’s final withdrawal from Hong Kong. Each district sent its own officers to receive training at the Training School at Queen’s Hill Camp. To-date, 31 search teams, each comprising one Sergeant and seven PCs, had been set up. It was targeted that a total of 40 teams would be available by mid-1997. Members of these teams performed search functions over and above their normal duties, on a stand-by basis.

(f) There were currently five qualified Bomb Disposal Officers (BDO) in the Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit and an additional officer would complete full training by mid-1997. Three BDOs would retire by mid-1997. By then there would be at least three BDOs left who could work solely on their own. There were four EOD Second-in-charges, whose rank had been upgraded from PC to Sergeant level. These EOD officers provided a preventive support to take care of the handling and disposal of explosives such as fish explosives and bomb-cells left since the War. They also assisted in internal security matters related to large scale events.

In response to members’ questions on the security arrangements for the handover ceremony and the associated events which would be held in June/July 1997, Mr LEE Ming-kwai said that, according to the agreement reached at the Joint Liaison Group (JLG), all internal security matters concerning the handover ceremony were the overall responsibility of the Hong Kong Police Force. The venue for the handover ceremony, i.e. the extended portion of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, would be thoroughly searched and sealed off a certain time before the ceremony took place. Any person entering or leaving the premises would also be searched. Similar measures would be introduced to other major venues. Regarding members’ concern as to the safety of VIPs attending the ceremony, Mr LEE said that since the Police had experience in receiving important public figures such as Heads of States from overseas, he was confident that adequate protection could be provided. He clarified that while some VIPs might be bringing their own security personnel around, these people would only play a liaising role. They would not carry out any internal security functions as the Hong Kong Police would do. Mr LEE also added that there was as yet no detailed information concerning the number and status of the guests and therefore any estimate of the required level of resources from the Police would need to be revised as the event approached.

On the matter of resource allocation, Mr LEE Ming-kwai advised that the intention was to call upon officers of the Police Tactical Units (PTU) to carry out most of the internal security duties, since the deployment of PTUs would least upset the normal daily policing functions. Out of a total of 12 companies of PTUs, about nine companies could be deployed for the purpose. Assistance from non-front-line officers such as trainers of PTUs and the Police Training Schools and officers in the Traffic Branch Headquarters would also be enlisted. Since activities relating to the handover ceremony might take place at the same time at different locations, co-ordination of manpower deployment would have to give due regard to such things as the nature and location of the events, the size of the crowd and the identities of the participants etc. It might be necessary in some cases to ask voluntary organisations such as the Civil Aid Service or the organisers themselves for assistance. Mr LEE informed members that so far the information he had in hand was confined to events scheduled up to 30 June 1997. Pending the availability of a finalised programme, he was working out his forecast of resources on the basis of doubling the resource requirements for the latest line-up of activities.

In reply to the Chairman, Mr LEE Ming-kwai said that he had been assigned with the responsibility, in addition to his normal duties, to take charge of internal security matters relating to the handover ceremony and the World Bank Conference in July 1997. A special unit was set up under his charge a year ago which had been liaising with the Chinese authorities on the necessary security arrangements. He was being assisted by four Superintendents of Police, who were respectively responsible for search functions, traffic managements, co-ordination of services for the VIPs, and handling of the media and public order. This special unit would be in operation until the conclusion of the World Bank Conference. Deployment of resources for this unit was at the discretion of the Commissioner of Police. To prepare for the events, necessary training, such as a training course in UK on search duties had been provided to officers of the search teams. In addition, overseas study missions had been undertaken by officers in the past two years to learn from the experiences of other countries in conducting major international events. These included the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the 1995 World Bank Conference in Washington and the New Zealand Commonwealth Head of Government Conference etc.

The Chairman advised that the subject matter of security measures for the handover ceremony should be followed up by the Panel on Security when more details were available.

Security Panel

Referring to the questions from the Chairman and Mr TSANG Kin-shing on the co-operation between the Police and the British Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Mr LEE Ming-kwai advised that, with the exception of matters relating to national defence, all internal security matters were the responsibilities of the Hong Kong Police Force before and after the handover. He expressed that chances of an internal disturbance which warranted the interference of the military was extremely low. However, there was a need to maintain a close liaison between the two sides. In the unlikely event of things getting out of hand before July 1997, assistance from the British Army would be sought, and after the change of sovereignty, from the PLA upon the decision of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. At present, liaison on the mode of co-operation between the Police and the PLA was made through the Security Branch and the defence experts from the Chinese side in the JLG.

Mrs Selina CHOW enquired of the progress of improving the collection and collation of illegal immigrants (II) intelligence. Mr LEE Ming-kwai stated that there were two teams in the AIICC, each led by one Sergeant and three PCs and assigned to San UK Ling Holding Centre (SUL HC) and Victoria Immigration Centre (VIC) respectively, which were responsible for obtaining intelligence by debriefing of IIs. A review of the Inspection Services Wing conducted in 1995 had considered the feasibility of transferring police officers of AIICC out of the two centres. However, it was decided that the location of the two debriefing teams at the centres was necessary as the team members, being officers able to speak different dialects, could converse freely with the IIs under detention. In addition, it would facilitate the production of II intelligence since the AIICC officers at the centres could readily check with statements and reports directed from the districts. Mr LEE further advised that, with a view to improving intelligence gathering, a new proforma devised to record only the vital information had been introduced. It contained information such as the background of the IIs, the purpose of their coming to Hong Kong, time and location of departure from China, the location of landing, the means of transport, whether the IIs had been working illegally in Hong Kong and using fake identities, and whether syndicated II activities were involved etc. The intelligence information was now handled with enhanced security and was provided swiftly to the border counterparts in China for their action. Mr LEE said that the number of arrested IIs had dropped in the past two years and he saw no reason to believe that there would be a large influx of IIs from China before and beyond 1997.

Mr Bruce LIU enquired if the aforesaid review on the Inspection Services Wing could be provided for members’ information. Mr LEE Ming-kwai replied that he could channel the report to members via the Security Branch.

Security Branch

Referring to Mrs Selina CHOW’s enquiry on the demand for police assistance in Orderly Repatriation Programmes (ORP), Mr LEE Ming-kwai said that while it was the responsibility of the Correctional Services Department (CSD) to remove Vietnamese migrants (VMs) from the detention centres for repatriation, PTUs were called in each time an ORP operation was carried out to take care of any conflict situation which might arise. The level of police support varied under different circumstances. It was also the duty of the Force to maintain order on board the planes carrying the VMs back to Vietnam. The number of VMs returned had now risen to over 1,000 in as many as ten flights per month and therefore the number of PTU officers deployed had also increased.

Members cautioned of the possibility of VMs taking advantage of the approach of 1997 and instigating troubles in the detention centres, since a considerable amount of police resources would have to be deployed elsewhere specifically to deal with events associated with the handover. Mr LEE Ming-kwai stated that the emergency units in the centres, with the support from the PTUs, should have sufficient strength to handle disturbances which might arise. Both the Force and CSD had contingency plans and they would closely keep track of the situation.

In reply to Mr TSANG Kin-shing’s question, Mr LEE Ming-kwai asserted that there had been no increase of manpower in the Counter Terrorism Section. In the past, no terrorists activities had been detected in Hong Kong. The focal point was to prevent Hong Kong, as an international city, from being used by terrorist organisations as a platform for their activities.

Referring to members’ enquiries on the cases handled by the EOD Unit, Mr LEE Ming-kwai said that the abnormally high figure of home made criminal or terrorist devices (IEDs) for 1990 was not indicative of terrorist activities or anything of that sort. It was mostly attributed to one particular case in which a large number of IEDs were seized from a person charged with a blackmailing offence. The number of military ordnance (UXO), on the other hand, referred to the disposal of conventional munitions of war or firearms and ammunitions left at the military’s firing ranges. Owing to the phased withdrawal of the Garrison before the handover, the number of such activities were declining. The Chairman asked the Administration to clarify whether the costs for handling UXO for the military were borne by the Police, and if so, the reasons for it and the amount involved. He also asked the Administration to explain the future arrangements with the PLA, and to update the number of incidents handled by the EOD Unit since 1992.


In response to Mr Bruce LIU’s question, Mr Philip CHAN confirmed that for safety and security reasons, the Administration had no plan to relax existing policies on the use of fireworks and fire-crackers.

Mrs Selina CHOW enquired of the progress of localisation of BDOs. Mr LEE Ming-kwai advised that there were at present two local officers, one of them was fully qualified and the other would complete training by April 1997. The Force was in the process of recruiting an additional officer. In due course, at least half of the four BDOs would be local officers.

Members enquired of the present position regarding the taking over of professional search duties from the military, which included a professional search capability with specialist equipment, arms/explosives search dogs, underwater search and training in defensive search for the VIP Protection Unit. Mr LEE Ming-kwai replied that the Force had enough resources to cope with the additional duties. Currently there were a total of four EOD teams, which could be increased to five teams in emergency situations, together with a cadre of 18 officers on stand-by duties. There were two experts specifically trained to deal with high risk searches, i.e. searches in situations where a specific threat that an IED was present. Mr LEE added that succession planning was in place to take care of retirements and suitable training was being provided to officers for creation of an adequate reserve.

The Chairman questioned the propriety of the Auxiliary Police taking up the duty from the military since 1989 of protecting the Key Points in the event of a threat situation. Mr LEE Ming-kwai explained that while the Auxiliary Police carried out guard duty in respect of civilian Key Points such as the public utilities, communications and media installations, military Key Points were the responsibility of the Army. Detailed contingency plans had been produced by the Key Points and Search Unit in co-operation with the various facility users. Whether or not the Auxiliary Police would need to be involved depended upon the particular circumstances. Minor disturbances would be dealt with by the facilities’ own means. In serious cases where the assistance of the Auxiliary Police was required, up to 3,000 members of the Force could be deployed. Mr LEE emphasised that the Auxiliary Police had a very important role to play in safeguarding the internal security of Hong Kong, as demonstrated by its valuable contribution in helping put down riots and conflict situations in the past.

In reply to Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr LEE Ming-kwai said that whether or not a disciplined post could be civilianised required a careful evaluation of the very nature of the job. In as much as some of the duties involved could be civilianised, the rest of the duties might not. For instance, while a Statistics Constable in the AIICC was replaced with a Clerical Officer, that part of his original duties which were normal police functions had to be re-shuffled and absorbed by other posts.

Central Illegal Immigration Escort Unit (CIIEU) (Report No. 32/93)

To update members on the implementation of the report, Mr LEE Ming-kwai stated that the major escorting duties of CIIEU involved the daily collecting of IIs from the Regions and transferring them either to SUL HC for repatriation to China or to VIC, and delivering those IIs handed over by the Immigration Department (ID) to be repatriated, from VIC to SUL HC. The report originally recommended for the creation of 41 posts. A subsequent review had reduced the number to 36. Creation of these posts would come about in 1997/98.

As to the question of whether the escort duties could be transferred to CSD or ID, Mr LEE Ming-kwai said that at present the CSD did not have the legal authority to receive IIs directly from ID. Mr Philip CHAN added that he did not foresee a change in the current mode of operation in the short-term, yet the idea of reverting the responsibility back to ID was being examined.

Mrs Selina CHOW queried the different treatment of Vietnamese boatpeople and IIs from China in that the former would be put in detention centres pending repatriation, while the latter would immediately be sent back to China. Mr LEE Ming-kwai said that Vietnamese boatpeople found working illegally in Hong Kong would be prosecuted and returned to Vietnam immediately. For those who were caught in Hong Kong waters, ID would investigate into their background to determine if they were genuine boatpeople and they would be detained in detention centres for subsequent repatriation. Mrs CHOW enquired if those Vietnamese people who had entered Hong Kong illegally and were subsequently arrested but not found to be working illegally could be repatriated immediately in the same way as other IIs did. The Chairman asked the Clerk to seek clarification from the Administration on existing policies on this issue after the meeting.

(Post-meeting note: A letter was sent to the Administration on 12.11.96 to request for the relevant information be included in the paper on issue of VMs for discussion at the Security Panel meeting on 16.12.96)


Mr Bruce LIU noted that the total cost for CIIEU to perform the escort duties was about 39% more than the estimated cost for Regions to do the same job. Nonetheless, he acknowledged that the higher cost was justified if, according to the Administration, it was more cost-effective for a specialised unit to perform the duties.

Civil Wing and Finance Division (Report No. 4/93)

The Chairman sought an updated account on the report. Mr LAM Cheong-yee advised that the report provided the results of a study which examined the structure, functions and manning of the three divisions under the responsibility of the Police Civil Secretary, i.e. the Establishment and Civilian Staff Relations Division, the Finance Division and the Personnel and General Division. The review came up with 71 recommendations, most of which concerned the creation and deletion of posts. Others were related to improvement measures through office automation and computerisation. Implementation of the proposed creation and deletion of posts was aimed for 1998/99. For non-establishment measures, most of them had already been put into practice, or in the course of implementation.

In reply to the Chairman’s enquiry, Mr LAM Cheong-yee said that with the approval of the Establishment Subcommittee of the Legislative Council, a Financial Controller post to replace the originally recommended post of Principal Executive Officer had been created in April 1996 within a new "F" Department. The Finance Division now came under this new department.

Regarding the relocation of the Force Library, Mr LAM Kin-keung advised that the Force intended to reprovision the library from Tai Sang Bank Building to the Police Headquarters in the short-term. Eventually the library would be relocated to the Police In-service Training Complex at Aberdeen. As to the usage rate of the library, Mr LAM stated that the number of visitors was about a dozen per day. About 60 to 70% of the officers visiting the library used it to prepare for examinations and promotion interviews. Another 20% used the library for job-related training and research.

Mr Bruce LIU enquired of the setting up of the computerised Personnel Information Communal System (PICS). Mr LAM Cheong-yee advised that PICS should become operational by early 1997. By then the staffing requirements of the Establishment and Statistics Office (ESO) would be reduced as many of the existing operations such as the keeping and compilation of statistics would be performed by PICS. At the moment, more than 60% of the records kept by ESO were maintained with the use of computers and the Force was speeding up the process of computerisation. The Chairman asked the Administration to provide an update on the overall manpower savings of the Police Force achieved through the implementation of the Police Information Technology Strategy.


In response to Mrs Selina CHOW’s query, Mr LAM Cheong-yee replied that most of the establishment related recommendations had yet to be implemented. The Force had sought resources for the creation of one Senior Executive Officer, one Treasury Accountant and one Senior Clerical Officer post in the Finance Division for 1997/98. In addition, applications for funds would be made to create 36 posts for 1998/99. For other posts urgently needed, they were trying to meet the requirements mostly by means of temporary redeployment of staff.

Mrs Selina CHOW expressed that she was puzzled with the delay in the implementation of a large number of the Police Study Team Reports recommendations. She recalled that the Secretary for Security and the Finance Branch had informed members in 1994 that apart from some 1,400 posts, all the other recommendations involving post creations and deletions had been agreed and that resources had been reserved. Mr Philip CHAN explained that while the Administration had supported in principle for the recommendations, a full implementation could not be done in a short period of time. A phased implementation programme had therefore been adopted which took into consideration priorities and resource constraints at the time. Mr CHAN undertook to provide a progress report setting out in major terms a stocklist of what had been done to give effect to the reports since the reports were released, which recommendations had not been adopted and things in progress to implement or re-define the proposals. Mrs CHOW suggested that a comparison of the existing versus the originally planned programme of implementation should also be included.


Force Catering Section of the Welfare Branch (Report No. 11/93)

Mr NG Wai-kit informed members that the report involved two major themes. One was related to the using of catering contractors and civilian cooks to run all police catering outlets and the Officers’ Mess. The other concerned a review of emergency catering for the Field Patrol Despatch and the PTU. There were in total 40 recommendations of which 16 had been implemented, 11 required longer-term deliberations and the remaining 13 were establishment related which would be implemented by 1999/2000.

In response to the Chairman’s enquiry, Mr NG Wai-kit said that most of the cooks in the Force Catering Section were police officers, some of whom might be suffering from minor health impairments.

Force Welfare Branch (Report No. 12/93)

Mr NG Wai-kit advised that the study had examined the possibilities to restructure the various sections of the Force Welfare Branch and to civilianise and rationalise redeployments. Consideration had also been given to deploy health-impaired police officers in certain posts. The report contained a total of 66 recommendations, most of which were establishment and structure related. 29 recommendations had been implemented, which included the retitling of the Force Welfare Branch to Personnel Services Branch to properly reflect the role of the Branch. 21 recommendations were in the course of implementation or being further examined. The remaining 16 which involved the creation and deletion of posts would be implemented by 1999/2000. Mr NG supplemented that 17 new posts would be created, offset by the deletion of 13 posts. There would therefore be a net creation of four posts.

Mr Bruce LIU opined that if a civilian officer with social work background or knowledge of the labour market would be preferable to a disciplined officer to provide counselling service to police officers. Mr NG Wai-kit replied that the Resettlement Services Unit offered various assistance to officers such as conducting courses for retiring police officers and job-placements for retirees. Specially selected police officers who had good understanding of the needs of their colleagues were considered more suitable than civilian officers to perform the tasks. In response to another question by Mr Bruce LIU, Mr NG said that the Force recognised the urgent need for an additional Force Clinical Psychologist and therefore a supernumerary post had been created which would be filled by early 1997. A permanent post would be created for 1997/98.

As regards holiday facilities, Mr NG Wai-kit stated that efforts were being made to achieve better utilisation of the facilities and to carry out maintenance in a more cost-effective manner. They had been trying to contract out maintenance and repair of holiday flats, but it turned out that response from contractors had not been encouraging. Mrs Selina CHOW remarked that the provision of good recreational and welfare facilities was an important factor which contributed to the well-being of the staff. She called for an urgent review to improve the facilities, such as relocating the holiday units in more popular locations, in order to encourage increased utilisation. Mr NG replied that a comprehensive review was taking place, which was in line with a programme introduced to promote a healthy life-style for officers. In the initial phase of the programme, improvements had been made to fitness training equipments provided for the use by staff. They would aim at recreational facilities in the next phase of the review.

III. Close of Meeting

The meeting ended at 10:45 am.

LegCo Secretariat
28 November 1996

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Last Updated on 21 August 1998