Legislative Council

LC Paper No. CB(2) 969/98-99
(These minutes have been seen by
the Administration)

Ref : CB2/PL/SE/1
LegCo Panel on Security

Minutes of meeting held on Thursday, 5 November 1998 at 2:30 pm in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present:

Hon James TO Kun-sun (Chairman)
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, JP (Deputy Chairman) Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
Dr Hon LUI Ming-wah, JP
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo

Public Officers attending:

Item III

Mr Raymond WONG
Deputy Secretary for Security 1

Mr Philip CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E

Mr MAK Man-poon
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Service Quality) (Atg.)
Hong Kong Police Force

Chief Superintendent of Police
Planning and Development
Hong Kong Police Force

Item IV

Mr Raymond WONG
Deputy Secretary for Security 1

Mr Philip CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E

Assistant Commissioner of Police (Information Systems)
Hong Kong Police Force

Item V

Ms Sally WONG
Deputy Secretary for Security 3

Miss Cathy CHU
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security C

Mr CHOI Ping-lun
Acting Assistant Director of Immigration (Visa & Policies)
Clerk in attendance:
Mrs Sharon TONG
Chief Assistant Secretary (2)1
Staff in attendance:
Miss Betty MA
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 1
I. Confirmation of minutes of previous meeting
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 484/98-99)

The minutes of meeting held on 3 September 1998 were confirmed.

II. Date of next meeting and items for discussion
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 534/98-99(01))

Items for discussion at the next Panel meeting

2. Members agreed to discuss the following items at the next Panel meeting to be held on 3 December 1998 -

  1. Arrangements with the Mainland on surrender of fugitive offenders;

  2. Taking of intimate and non-intimate sample; and

  3. Rehabilitation of offenders - legislative amendments to provide for new short term residential programmes for young offenders.As suggested by the Chairman, the item at 2(a) would cover the existing arrangement with the Mainland on the surrender of fugitive offenders and the steps taken by the Administration to establish a formal agreement with the Mainland on the matter.
Items for discussion at future Panel meetings

3. Members agreed to include the following items into the Panel's list of outstanding issues for discussion at future meetings - (a) Policy on Closed Area permit;(b) Assistance rendered to Hong Kong residents who had got into trouble in the Mainland; and(c) Assistance rendered to Hong Kong residents who had got into trouble in Taiwan.

Plan for Panel visit

4. The Chairman said the visit to the Shek Pik Prison and the Sha Tsui Detention Centre in Lantau Island was scheduled for 19 January 1999. The Clerk would follow up with the Correctional Services Department on the arrangements.Clerk

III. Service culture: improvement to police stations
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 534/98-99(02))

Briefing by the Administration

5. Deputy Secretary for Security 1 (DS/S(1)) said that in his 1998 Policy Address, the Chief Executive stated that the Administration would constantly improve its strategies and capabilities in fighting crimes as well as maintaining the Police Force as one of the best trained and equipped forces in the world. This information paper informed members of the Police's customer service improvement measures.

6. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Service Quality)(Ag) (ACP/SQ)(Ag) briefed members on the salient points of the information paper. He said that the Force management had adopted a service quality approach. The Force strategy on service quality was customer focused i.e. to meet the expectations of both internal and external "customers". The Force management would ensure the measures taken were value for money and would match the Force's mission statement of common purpose and values. The Force management had conducted surveys on the expectations of members of the public and the Force. External surveys revealed that areas for improvement included efficiency and inter-personal skill of the Police. A Force-wide consultation on its mission statement and a series of "Living the Values" campaigns were launched in order to bring the values into the Force culture. It was found that members of the Force expected better management of public expectation, better training, streamlining the working processes, making use of technology and better working environment. As a result, the North Point Police Station was chosen as the pilot station to test a number of customer service improvement initiatives so as to set an overall standard for delivery of customer service into the next century. The three key components of the first phase of the pilot scheme, which focused at the reporting facilities in the North Point Police station project were as follows -

  1. Identifying ideas that could be implemented within a short period of time through an early win pilot. The Force management focused at 17 initiatives out of 140 ideas identified. The major scope of the improvements to the reporting services and facilities were listed out in para. 9 of the information paper. The early win pilot became operational in March 1998. Training programmes had been organized to assist officers to get used to the new measures in the report room;

  2. Identifying longer term change opportunities by analysing the strength and weaknesses of the existing procedures. The Force management had made use of technology and introduced re-engineering process to redefine the roles and responsibilities of the officers concerned; and

  3. Station improvement scheme which dealt with the physical modification of the Police station.
7. Chief Superintendent of Police (Planning and Development) (CSP/P&D) added that the station improvement scheme was to provide a user friendly environment for both the public and the station staff. The project initially focused on the delivery of report rooms services and would be extended as appropriate to crime office, property office and other areas involving direct contact between the Police and the public. The new design was considered to be more user friendly, accountable and of easy maintainence.

8. CSP/P&D said that the Police station security was also proposed to be replaced with automated security systems to monitor and control the pedestrian and vehicular access. Such security duties were currently undertaken by Police Constables (PC). The proposal would release about 100 PC posts to perform front-line operational duties as well as improve the security in Police stations.


Attitude of the Force

9. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong expressed concern about the use of foul language by police officers. He enquired about the measures in place to bring about a change in the attitude of the Force with a view to improving its image. ACP/SQ(Ag) said that the Force management had placed due emphasis on the working attitude of the Force. Training courses on emotional quotient, role playing, etc. had been organized for officers at various levels. He assured members that members of the Force were constantly reminded of adopting a firm but polite attitude towards members of the public.

10. While appreciating the Force's efforts to improve the service quality, Mr Howard YOUNG asked whether an individual Police officer had any difficulties to reconcile the differences in his roles to provide customer service and act as a law enforcement agency. ACP/SQ(Ag) said that the Force management had constantly reminded members of the Force that they had different roles to play. Police officers should adopt different attitudes and approaches when dealing with criminals, helping the innocents, elderly, etc. Training had been provided in this regard.

Layout of interview room

11. In response to Mr Howard YOUNG's enquiry about the effectiveness of the proposed layout of interview room in the Police station, ACP/SQ(Ag) said that the existing arrangement on taking statements from suspects and witnesses within a common interview room was unsatisfactory. Under the proposed layout, suspects and witnesses would be interviewed separately.

Performace standard inside report room

12. Mrs Selina CHOW said that improvements to customer service could be quantified by shortening the waiting time for reporting cases. She enquired whether any performance pledge would be adopted on the waiting time taken for making a report to the Police. ACP/SQ(Ag) responded that it was difficult to set a target on the waiting time and processing time taken respectively for each case to be handled in the report room having regard to the nature and complexity of individual cases. Under the pilot scheme on customer service improvement initiatives, the reporting procedures were streamlined and that members of public could report cases by fax. Such reports would be followed up by phone calls, if required. In addition, a receptionist was posted in the report room who would be responsible for categorizing the urgency or complexity of cases. Priority would be given to the urgent cases. He said that experience from the pilot scheme at the North Point Police station had demonstrated that the receptionist was capable of performing this duty. Should any difficulties be encountered, the Duty Officer in the Police station would provide the necessary assistance. Regarding making reports by fax, ACP/SQ(Ag) said that a territory wide publicity would be launched upon the full implementation of the scheme. The Police had not launched publicity on this new measure at this stage because it did not want to confuse the public as the trial was carried out in the North Point Police Station only.

13. Mrs Selina CHOW asked whether the Police had carried out any survey to assess the satisfaction of report room "customers". In reply, ACP/SQ(Ag) said that the Police had carried out three surveys targeted at both internal and external "customers". Based on the findings of the Public Opinion Survey, the Force could identify the perception of the general public on the performance in the report rooms. The Customer Satisfaction Survey was to identify views from those who had made reports to the Police on areas for improvement in the report rooms. Views from staff members were collected by conducting the Staff Opinion Survey. ACP/SQ(Ag) said that upon the full implementation of the improvement proposals, the Police would be able to set a service standard for report rooms based on the findings of the Public Opinion Survey and the Customer Satisfaction Survey.

14. In response to the Chairman's enquiry on whether any monitoring mechanism was in place to monitor the effectiveness of report room staff, in particular their efficiency in statement taking, ACP/SQ(Ag) said that under the pilot scheme in the North Point Police Station, an officer at Inspectorate rank was responsible for assigning cases made in the report room to detective staff for statement taking. Before the person who made the report left the report room, the Inspector would inform him of the aspects that could be followed up by the Police. The Chairman and Mrs Selina CHOW considered that this arrangement would be more desirable and effective than simply relied on the receptionist to categorize the reported cases. They urged the Police to expedite a full implementation of this arrangement in all Police stations.

15. Mr Albert HO suggested the Police to consider carrying out a customer satisfaction survey covering all the users of report rooms, such as victims, witnesses, etc. and keeping those who had reported cases informed of the investigation progress at regular intervals. ACP/SQ(Ag) said that a local Customer Satisfaction Survey was conducted for the North Point Project and report room users were interviewed by telephone three months after a report was made to the Police whereby the investigation would have normally been completed. The respondents were requested to comment on the way of handling cases by all the officers involved. He said that in future Forcewide Customer Satisfaction Survey and Public Opinion Survey would be conducted in alternate years to gauge public feedback. The respondents of the Customer Satisfaction Survey included those who had made reports to the Police, victims or witnesses. Regarding Mr HO's suggestion to keep members of the public informed of the investigation progress, ACP/QS(Ag) said that a case number was assigned to each case and that the person making the report could check the progress simply by making a phone call and quoting the case number for reference. An internal guideline for the Force had stipulated when to notifiy the persons concerned of the crime investigation progress.

Provision of Video-Interview Rooms (VIRs) in Police stations

16. Mr Andrew CHENG said that apart from the introduction of service improvement measures, the Police should consider providing more VIRs in Police stations so as to safeguard the fairness in the course of statement taking. CSP/P&D said that the setting up of VIRs had commissioned since last year. By the end of October 1998, 54 VIRs had been made available in various Police stations. The immediate target was 60 VIRs. It was expected that all the installation would be completed within November 1998. Upon the completion of the installation, except for a few Police stations such as those in outlying islands, there would be at least one VIR in each Police district. The initial assessment suggested that such provision was adequate for conducting interviews simultaneously. A review on the adequacy of such facilities would be conducted later. Should the need for the installation of more VIRs in respective Police stations arise, the Police would consider increasing the provision of such facilities.

Handling of non-criminal matters

17. Mr Albert HO said that he had received quite a number of complaints on the advice given by the report room staff on cases related to fraud, transactions with foreign exchange companies, alleged harassment and intimidation by private developers on residents in the New Territories, etc. Very often the report room staff would advise the complainant that these cases could not be dealt with by the Police because they were non-criminal matters. Mr HO was concerned that the improper handling of such cases would undermine the public's confidence in the Police. ACP/SQ(Ag) said that should any reported cases be non-criminal, the report room staff would advise the complainant where to seek appropriate assistance. The relevant information pamphlets would also be made available to the complainant.

18. Members were of the views that the Police should give due consideration before advising members of the public that the cases in question would not be followed up by the Police. ACP/SQ(Ag) stressed that sufficient training had been provided to report room staff in this regard. Coupled with their experience, they were capable of differentiating whether a case should be dealt with by the Police. Members of the public could approach another senior officer in the Police station for advice should the former have reservation on the decision of the report room staff. He pointed out that legal proceedings were occassionally required in order to determine whether it was a criminal or a civil case. If a case was subsequently identified as or developed into a criminal case, the Police would take the follow-up actions.

Quality improvement in the Force

19. Members remarked that apart from the physical modifications of the Police stations, improvements of service attitude of the Force were of the utmost importance. In response, DS/S(1) said that the Administration would consider members' views. In the light of members' concerns, the Chairman considered that service quality improvement in the Police Force was worthwhile for a separate discussion at a future Panel meeting.(Post-meeting note : The subject of service quality improvement in the Police Force had been included in the Panel's list of outstanding items for discussion.)

IV. Police information technology strategy
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 534/98-99(03))

Briefing by the Administration

20. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Information Systems) (ACP/IS) briefed members on the information paper. He said that the first five-year Information Systems Strategy (ISS) of the Police Force had been implemented since 1993 and was scheduled to be completed in mid-1999. A review of the strategy was underway. The next five-year plan would start in 2000 subject to the availability of funds. A consultant was being engaged for formulating recommendations for the new strategic plan in the coming six months. Subject to the endorsement of the consultant's recommendations, funding approval would be sought for the first year of the next five-year plan which was split into five-year annual action plan. The thrust of the new plan would be two folds. Firstly, the front-line officers would be empowered to have immediate access to the database of the Force whereas at present they were only provided with a radio to communicate with the control centre. Secondly, the Force would further develop its on-line technology to the general public. For example, the public could make a report through the internet.


Scope and formulation of ISS

21. In response to Mr Howard YOUNG, ACP/IS said that the positioning of vehicles and personnel of the Force was not included in the current ISS. The Force was actively considering the inclusion of global positioning system in the new strategic plan for the marine Police because of the dispersion of the marine fleet. It was considered not technically viable for the land region given the densely built high rise buildings and the actual needs to know the exact location of each patrol officer and patrol car as Hong Kong was a small place.

22. The Chairman opined that the Force management should adopt a proactive and forward planning approach in the use of advance information technology in order not to lag behind the development in the field. He concerned whether the ISS could cater for the Force's long term development. Otherwise, members might have reservation about the related funding proposal in future. ACP/IS assured members that the Force had been proactive and aggressive in formulating its ISS. For the next strategic plan, it would look at the new technology to see how it might add value to the Force and avoid implementing obsolete technology. However, he pointed out that the Force should avoid the occurrence of operation being driven by technology. ACP/IS added that the application of advance information technology would be easier for the terrestrial communication because the radio communication systems had been in use for over 20 years and was due for replacement by 2003. It would involve a change from analog network to digital network so as to support the use of mobile computers. It would try to project where the development in the information technology field would be in the coming four to five years and to assess the extent that would be suitable for the Police Force.

23. In response to Mr Albert HO, ACP/IS said that the current ISS had been implemented incrementally over the last five years. The Force was well aware of the need to keep in pace with modern information technology development and had adopted an on-going strategy to project the development.

24. Mr Howard YOUNG pointed out that the Police had mentioned in its previous funding proposal for the communication with the MTR system that analog transmission worked better than digital. He wondered if the system in question would be obsolete when ISS was implemented. ACP/IS said that ISS intended to replace the command and control system which supported all the foot patrol officers and patrol cars. The system for MTR patrol would not be covered under ISS.

Culture of applying information technology in the Force

25. Mrs Selina CHOW asked if the Force, in particular the rank and file officers, was culturally prepared for the application of information technology in performing their duties. ACP/IS said that as revealed from the Force's experience in a network application some years ago, though some older officers in the Force had some difficulties in getting used to the computer system, the application of information technology in the Force was generally satisfactory. In addition, the Force management had made enormous efforts and initiatives in providing computer training for its officers. To cope with the implementation of ISS, a five-year training strategy had been formulated so that computer literacy would become a core skill of each Police officer. Regarding the application of a particular computer system, the most effective way would be providing "just in-time training" shortly before the need to use the system.

Burden of portable computer equipment on Police officers

26. Mr Howard YOUNG considered that Police officers should not be over burdened with too many portable computer equipment. In response, ACP/IS said that the Force management had given due consideration to the matter, such as exploring the possibility to combine certain equipment. He also pointed out that computer equipment was getting lighter and lighter.

Savings from the implementation of ISS

27. Noting from para. 4 of the information paper, about 580 posts would be saved upon the completion of the current ISS, the Chairman asked how the savings in posts compared with the estimated figures provided in the funding proposal submitted to the then Finance Committee for approval in 1993. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E said that savings of 569 posts were proposed in the funding submission in 1993. ACP/IS added that the discrepancy was due to some modifications in the number of posts saved in some ranks. The Force was able to achieve the proposed savings in staff costs.

28. The Chairman requested the Police to report back to the Panel on the findings of its review of the current ISS which was expected to be completed in April 1999.Adm

V. Admission of Mainland children who have the right of abode under the Basic Law for settlement in Hong Kong
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 534/98-99(04))

Briefing by the Administration

29. Deputy Secretary for Security 3 (DS/S(3)) said that the Exit-Entry Administration Bureau of the Public Security Ministry had lowered the qualifying points, under the Points System, for two categories of applicants for One-Way Permits (OWPs) since 30 October 1998. The points required for dependent children coming to Hong Kong to join their relatives had been lowered from 26 to 16. The points required for persons coming to Hong Kong to take care of their dependent parents had been lowered from 36 to 26. It was expected that arrangements could be made for applicants of these two categories to come to Hong Kong before the end of this year. She said that the new arrangement would not affect the daily sub-quota of 60 for children who had the right of abode in Hong Kong under Article 24(3) of the Basic Law (eligible children) and the daily sub-quota of 30 for spouses who had been separated over ten years. Other categories of applicants for OWPs would not be affected by the new arrangement too because on average only 136 out of the total daily quota of 150 had been utilised so far this year. An estimate of 3 000 to 4 000 persons belonged to the two categories in question, based on the available information from the Mainland authorities. It was therefore believed that the new arrangement had no impact on the specified sub-quota as well as the unspecified sub-quota.


Eligibility for applying Certificate of Entitlement (C of E) in Hong Kong

30. In response to Mr LEE Cheuk-yan, Assistant Director of Immigration (Visa & Policies)(Ag) (AD/VP)(Ag) said that the application for OWP and C of E should be submitted to the Public Security Bureau (PSB) in the Mainland. As children involved in the Court cases who had been released on recognisance were currently not in the Mainland, they were unable to submit such application to the PSB unless they had already done so before they came to Hong Kong.

Unallocated OWP daily quota

31. Reponding to Mr LEE Cheuk-yan's enquiry on why there were unused OWP daily quota, AD/VP(Ag) said that the Mainland authorities had tightened the qualifying points under the Points System in March 1998, resulting in some of the OWP daily quota being unused.

32 Noting that there was on average 16 OWP daily quota left unused, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong asked whether the Administration had taken any remedial action. DS/S(3) said that the Administration maintained close contact with the Mainland authorities on the OWP quota and utilisation. Arrangements for lowering the qualifying points for the two categories of applicants in question, to some extent, were introduced as a result of views reflected by the Administration to the Mainland authorities on the situation.

Approval for OWPs in the Mainland

33. Regarding Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong's concern on the transparency of the Points System, AD/VP(Ag) responded that the Public Security Bureau had announced in March 1998 the quantative criteria for securing an OWP under the Points System and that notices on point scores of OWP applications had been put up at PSB offices.

34. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong enquired whether the Administration had carried out any surveys to see if any new arrivals had to bribe officials in the Mainland for approval for OWPs. DS/S(3) said that the Administration had reflected the concern to the Mainland authorities during the regular meetings. AD/VP(Ag) added that should the Immigration Department receive from any C of E holders complaint about the allegation of bribery, it would refer the case to the Mainland authorities for follow up. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong requested the Administration to provide information on the number of alleged bribery cases in obtaining OWPs in the Mainland, the respective investigation results and follow up actions.Adm

Use of false information in applying OWPs

35. In response to Mr Howard YOUNG, DS/S(3) said that under the Immigration Ordinance, a person would be repatriated if he was subsequently proved to have provided false information for the application of residency, even if the application had already been approved. As the false information was provided to the Mainland authorities for application of OWPs instead of the Administration, the Chairman requested the Administration to examine whether the above provision was applicable in this regard, if not, whether there was any loophole in the existing legislation Adm

Admission of eligible adult children

36. Mrs Selina CHOW remarked that children who had the right of abode under the Basic Law should be accorded with priority for admission to Hong Kong as this was a legal right conferred on them by the law. She expressed concern about the admission of eligible adult children from the Mainland whose right of abode had been neglected in the past. In response, DS/S(3) said that of the 32 457 eligible children who had already entered Hong Kong since 1 July 1997, 2 537 were over the age of 20. According to the information provided by the Mainland authorities, 15 000 eligible adult children had submitted applications in the Mainland. The Administration had no statistics on the number of adult eligible children in the Mainland.

37. The Chairman echoed Mrs CHOW's view. He urged the Administration to reflect members' views to the Mainland authorities that priority in allocating sub-quota should be given to children of all ages who had the right of abode under the Basic Law. DS/S(3) said that under the present arrangement, a specified daily sub-quota of 60, which was already the largest category, were allocated to children of all ages who had the right of abode under the Basic Law having regard to the needs for family reunion of different categories of applicants under the Points System. The Chairman requested the Administration to advise, in writing, why only 2 537 eligible adult children had come to settle in Hong Kong given that there were 15 000 applications submitted in the Mainland. The Chairman and Mrs Selina CHOW urged the Administration to fight for an early admission of eligible children of all ages.Adm

38. Mr LEE Cheuk-yan said that the authorities should strike a balance as regards OWPs for eligible children and non-eligible children.

Authroity to approve applications for OWPs

39. The Chairman said that there was a general consensus in the legislature that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government should have a much greater role in approving the applications for OWPs. DS/S(3) said that the issue of OWPs to Mainland residents was administered by the Mainland authorities. The Administration would consider ways to improve the implementation of OWP System.

40. The meeting ended at 4:50 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
30 December 1998