on 16 October 1997
Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Security
Handling of Traffic Accidents Involving
This paper briefs Members on the Police's procedures of handling traffic accidents involving Police officers. When Police officers are involved, the procedures are more stringent to ensure cases are impartially investigated. These procedures are clearly laid down in the orders and procedures of the Police Force.
2.Traffic accidents involving off duty Police officers are handled in the same way as any other traffic accidents involving members of the public, except that the investigation of the case is scrutinised by a more senior Police officer, usually at the rank of Superintendent. However, traffic accidents involving Police officers on duty are investigated by the Special Investigation Team of the respective Traffic Regions where the accident occurs. These teams normally only deal with fatal and more serious accident cases but also handle all accidents involving Police officers on duty. The level of supervision over these cases is pitched at a higher level. Such cases will be drawn to the attention of the Senior Superintendent in charge of the Regional Traffic formation who will personally endorse action to be taken.
3.A decision will be made by the Senior Superintendent in charge of the Regional Traffic formation within 24 hours as to whether the Police officer concerned should be suspended from driving duties. The decision is made in accordance with the principles laid down in the Force Procedures Manual. These principles stipulate that a driver should be suspended if he/she has been involved in a fatal or serious injury traffic accident or where there are indications that the driver may be prosecuted for Reckless Driving or Reckless Driving Causing Death.
4.For Police officers involved in serious accidents, which are likely to cause stress, they will be interviewed by the Police Force Clinical Psychologist for counselling and may be temporarily relieved from performing normal constabulary duties.
5.The decision of whether to prosecute a Police officer on duty involved in serious traffic accident will be taken by the Department of Justice after studying the investigation report of the Police. The prosecuting procedures will follow the same as any other traffic accidents involving members of the public.
6.Apart from criminal proceedings, a Police driver involved in accident could be liable for disciplinary proceedings. After a Police officer has been convicted of any offence, the Force Disciplined Officer will be informed. Under the Police Force disciplinary regulations, a further disciplinary punishment can be imposed which can range from a reprimand to dismissal. In addition to the above procedures following the conviction for an offence, a Police officer can also be subject to proceedings for breaching the Police disciplinary code, for example, disobeying written orders in regard to driving Police vehicles. These procedures can be invoked whether or not a criminal prosecution is instigated.
Removal from Driving Duties
7.At the conclusion of the traffic accident enquiry, including court proceedings if any, the final decision as to whether the Police officer concerned should be removed from driving duties rests with the Senior Superintendent (Transport) at Police Headquarters. There are provisions for remedial training and psychological examination to determine fitness for driving duties.
Compensation for Damage
8.Whether or not the traffic accident results in a prosecution or in disciplinary proceedings the officer may be held accountable for any damage to the Police vehicle or equipment. Where claims arise against the Police driver from a third party, these are settled by the Commissioner of Police on behalf of the Government, in accordance with advice from the Department of Justice. If the Police officer is off duty, he is treated like any other citizen and covered by his own insurance.
Hong Kong Police Force