Legislative Council

LC Paper No. CB(2) 751/98-99
(These minutes have been seen by
the Administration)

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

Minutes of meeting held on Tuesday, 13 October 1998 at 4:30 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 CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo

Members attending:

Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Members absent:

Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
Dr Hon LUI Ming-wah, JP
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP

Public Officers attending:
Item II

Mr Raymond WONG
Deputy Secretary for Security 1

Mr Philip CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management)
Hong Kong Police Force

Mr Stanley WONG
Director of Finance
Administration and Planning
Hong Kong Police Force

Chief Superintendent (Planning and Development)
Hong Kong Police Force

Deputy Director of Architectural Services

Ms Marigold LAU
Project Director
Architectural Services Department

Mr Peter YUEN Ka-tat
Chief Architect
Architectural Services Department

Item III

Principal Assistant Secretary for Security

Chief Fire Officer
Fire Services Department

Acting Chief Ambulance Officer
Fire Services Department

Item IV

Ms CHANG King-yiu
Deputy Secretary for Security 2

Miss Bonnie WONG
Assistant Commissioner (Inspectorate and Management Services)
Correctional Services Department

Mr Sunny LEUNG
Senior Superintendent (Personnel)
Correctional Services Department
Clerk in attendance:
Mrs Sharon TONG
Chief Assistant Secretary (2)1
Staff in attendance:
Miss Betty MA
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 1
I. Date of next meeting and items for discussion
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 382/98-99(01))

Members agreed to discuss the following items at the next Panel meeting to be held on 5 November 1998 -(a) Service culture : improvement to police stations;(b) Police information technology strategy; and(c) Admission of Mainland children who have the right of abode under the Basic Law for settlement in Hong Kong.

2. The Chairman expressed concern about the new licensing requirements for massage establishments issued by the Police. Mrs Selina CHOW said that a case conference with the Administration on the issue would be held on 22 October 1998, and she would report back to the Panel if necessary. The Chairman suggested that interested members might attend the case conference.

3. The Chairman reminded members that a visit to the ICAC was scheduled for 22 October 1998.

4. Regarding members' earlier suggestion of visiting penal institutions of the Correctional Services Department, the Chairman said that the Commissioner for Correctional Services had proposed to visit Shek Pik Prison and Sha Tsui Detention Centre in Lantau Island. Members agreed with the proposal. The Clerk would follow-up with the Correctional Services Department. Clerk

II. Redevelopment of Police Headquarters
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 382/98-99(02))

5. At the invitation of the Chairman, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) took members through the information paper. He pointed out that the existing Police Headquarters (PHQ) complex consisted of four buildings, namely Caine House, May House, Arsenal House and Arsenal House West Wing. The Police Force submitted a proposal to refurbish May House to the then Public Works Sub-Committee (PWSC) in April 1997. PWSC considered that the proposal was not the most cost-effective option and asked the Administration to re-consider other viable options. Having considered various options for redevelopment, the Administration was of the view that to demolish May House and redevelop the site together with the external car parking area into a 43-storey building was a viable and cost-effective option. The new complex would accommodate people working in May House and Caine House as well as various PHQ units currently located in leased premises. It would also accommodate the Wanchai District Headquarters and Divisional Station. Upon the completion of the project, part of the Caine House site and the whole of the Wanchai District Headquarters and Divisional Station and Quarters site would be relinquished for redevelopment. DCP stressed that the proposal represented an optimal utilization of the site and would be able to cope with the existing as well as the future operational requirements of the Police Force.

6. Chief Superintendent (Planning and Development) (CSP/P&D) and Chief Architect/Architectural Services Department (CA/ASD) presented the planning objectives of the project, project scope, design and layout of the project, budget and timeframe for the development. CSP/P&D said that the reasons for demolishing May House and relinquishing the Caine House site and the Wanchai Police Station site were that: it would be inefficient and costly to maintain the buildings; the fire services and building services installations were aging and needed to be replaced; there was no room for expansion and no potential for future information technology development in these buildings; and there was an under utilization of sites. He pointed out that the new complex would accommodate various support facilities, such as an indoor firing range, a multi-purpose hall, a library etc. Apart from housing the PHQ units, the new complex could also accommodate the Police Public Relations Branch, Central Traffic Prosecutions Bureau, Crime Prevention Bureau, Personnel Services Branch, Licensing Office, Planning & Development Branch as well as Service Quality Wing. The proposal was considered as a comprehensive and cost-effective way for developing the Arsenal Yard.

7. CA/ASD said that the new complex would be a 43-storey building with a four-level basement. Its gross floor area would amount to approximately 110 925 m2 which would yield a plot ratio of 15. The estimated capital cost of the entire project was approximately $2.755 billion at December 1997 prices. The project would be carried out in two stages. Stage 1 would commence in April 1999 which was mainly concerned with the preparatory works including the demolition of May House, piling works and construction of a diaphragm wall and a four-level basement structure. The estimated cost was $662.3 million at today's prices. Stage 1 was expected to be completed in September 2001 and immediately followed by Stage 2 during which the major construction works would be carried out. The entire project would be completed in November 2003.

8. Referring to the budget provided by the Administration in the information paper, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong pointed out that the construction cost, excluding fitting out cost, of the new complex would be $16,360 per square metre. He queried whether the construction cost in question was on the high side. CA/ASD responded that the recent tender prices for the construction of Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices and North Point Government Offices were $20,200 and $20,800 per square metre respectively. Even the construction cost in respect of the Arsenal House West Wing amounted to $20,200 per square metre. At the request of members, Deputy Director of Architectural Services (DDAS) agreed to provide a comparison of the construction cost of various similar government buildings mentioned above in the paper for submission to PWSC. He stressed that if the tender exercise for the project could be carried out within this financial year, the Administration would be able to take the advantage of relatively lower tender prices in the current state of economy.Adm

9. Mr Edward HO pointed out that the comparatively expensive construction cost of the new complex was due to the construction of a four-level basement structure. Given there was no height restriction on the site, he doubted whether the construction of a basement was considered extremely necessary. For example, carparking facility might not need to be provided in the basement. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong shared his views on the necessity of a basement having regard to the construction cost and the prevailing economic situation. In addition, Mr HO queried whether the nine-month lead time taken for the demolition of May House was unduly long. He asked whether ASD would consider adopting the top down approach for the construction of the new complex so as to reduce the construction time and the cost.

10. In reply, CA/ASD said that parking spaces were provided in both the podium and the basement under the proposed design. Besides parking spaces, the Force Armoury, building services installation etc. would be located in the basement. Should the plan to construct a basement be cancelled, at least a six-level podium would have to be built and the fitting out plan of the new complex would require alteration correspondingly. In that case, the report room might no longer be located at the ground floor or the podium, but several floors upstairs. It would definitely undesirable from the operational and the public's point of view. DDAS added that the Administration was aware that the construction of a basement was not inexpensive. However, having studied the options carefully, it was of the view that the current proposal was the most optimum option. DCP stressed that all the support facilities were necessary for the construction of an intelligent building. Despite there was an economic downturn recently, the construction of the new complex was worthwhile in the long term to meet the future operational needs of the Force. The Chairman suggested the Administration to further consider the viability of trimming down the budget while accommodating the operational needs of the Force.

11. Regarding the top down approach, DDAS opined that due consideration had been given to the option. However, if such approach was to be adopted, all the relevant design plans, and tender documents had to be ready by early 1999. As ASD would not be able to get all the relevant documents ready by that time, it was therefore considered that Stage 1 of the project should commence in the first instance so as to allow some time for ASD to prepare all the documents required for the rest of the project. Moreover, the site was tight for the adoption of top down approach. Due to the site constraint, the top down approach would not necessarily shorten the overall programme. In these terms, the approach was therefore considered not advantageous.

12. Regarding the nine-month period allowed for demolition work, DDAS clarified that Stage 1 was not only concerned with the demolition of May House, it also included piling works, the construction of a diaphragm wall and a four-level basement structure. All the works involved in Stage 1 would be under one single contract. Moreover, under the existing legislation, great care must be exercised regarding the demolition of buildings, and a longer lead time was required for precautionary measures.

13. Mr Edward HO suggested that ASD should consider splitting the works involved in Stage 1 into several contracts so that the demolition of May House could take place at an earlier date and in the meantime ASD could proceed with other preparatory works. DDAS reiterated that the present two-contract proposal enable ASD to maximize the time available for the construction of the new complex. Thus, when the demolition and piling works, which were covered under the first contract, were underway, ASD still had sufficient time to deal with the planning and design in respect of the superstructure, which were to be covered under the second contract.

14. Mrs Miriam LAU and Mrs Selina CHOW considered that the new complex should be user friendly as far as possible. Mrs Miriam LAU commented that there was a lack of parking facility for the public in the new complex and that the provision of four loading areas for members of the public was inadequate. DCP said that as the new complex was situated at a very convenient location which was easily accessible by different modes of transport. The Administration envisaged that members of the public seldom visited the various units in the new complex by their own vehicles. The design of the new complex had taken into account the accessibility of the public. Nevertheless, DCP said that the Administration would further look into the suggestion and see if some parking spaces could be reserved for public use. The Chairman, however, had reservation about having public car parking facility in the complex from the security point of view. He emphasized that while providing convenience to the public, the security of the new complex should not be compromised.Adm

15. Responding to Mrs Miriam LAU, DCP advised that the quarters adjacent to the Wanchai Police Station were for the rank and file officers. There were altogether 40 units, 36 of them were occupied. Upon the completion of the project, the quarters together with the Wanchai Police Station would be relinquished and the site would be handed back to the Administration for redevelopment. The existing tenants would be rehoused.

In response to another question from Mrs Miriam LAU, DDAS advised that the installation of curtain wall for the new complex would facilitate a better control of air-conditioning. Given that only slightly more than one year was allowed for the construction of the superstructure, the use of curtain wall, which was a kind of pre-fabricated item, would enable the related preparatory works to be carried out off site. It did not necessarily mean that the entire curtain wall would be made of glass. DCP added that both Arsenal House and Arsenal House West Wing as well as the nearby private buildings had installed curtain wall.

16. Mr David CHU enquired whether consideration had been given to building a helicopter pad on the top of the new complex having regard to the frequent traffic congestion in the area. DCP said that the proposal had been ruled out having considered that the complex was in close proximity to the helicopter pad in the Central. DDAS added that the construction of a helicopter pad in the complex faced two technical difficulties. Firstly, high rise buildings might be built at the Caine House site relinquished for redevelopment in future, which would impose difficulties on the operation of a helicopter pad. Secondly, a lot of antennae would be installed at the top of the new complex for the use of modern information technology. In addition, he pointed out that the Civil Aviation Department would raise objection to the proposal because of the high rise buildings nearby.

17. Noting that the new complex might be blocked by high rise buildings in the future, the Chairman suggested the Administration to consider the viability of utilizing the entire site (i.e. including the Caine House site relinquished for redevelopment) by incorporating some other PHQ units located elsewhere. Deputy Secretary for Security (1) responded that the proposed project would achieve the permissible maximum plot ratio of the site and satisfy PHO accommodation requirements. Thus there was no need to build another building on the site. He added that the Administration had no immediate plan in mind as to how that piece of land in question would be used.

18. Responding to Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong, CSP/P&D said that the size of proposed multi-purpose hall was not particularly large, which could accommodate 300 persons, bearing in mind that there were about 5 500 people working in PHQ and an addition of 17 units would be relocated in the new complex. The hall would be used as a venue for exhibition, training, conference, briefing session, etc.

19. In response to Mr Edward HO, CSP/P&D said that as the Central District Headquarters and Divisional Station at Hollywood Road was providing services for the community in the Central, the Police Force had no plan to relocate it.

20. The Chairman suggested that to facilitate members of PWSC to consider the funding proposal of the redevelopment project, the Administration should address members' concerns raised when preparing its paper for submission to PWSC.Adm

III. Performance Indicator for the Emergency Ambulance Service
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 382/98-99(03), CB(2) 382/98-99(04) and CB(2) 382/98-99(05))

21. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security SD (PAS/S(SD)) briefed members on the information paper. He highlighted that the emergency ambulance service (EAS) of Fire Services Department (FSD) was committed to adopting a 12-minute response time as its performance target to replace the current target of ten-minute travel time effective from 1 November 1998. The new performance target would not incur additional resources and there was no lowering of service standard. FSD proposed to maintain its pledge of responding to 92.5% of emergency calls within the new performance indicator. The proposed 12-minute response time performance target compared favourably with overseas standard.

22. Noting from Annex C of the information paper that EAS responded to approximately 98% of emergency calls within 16 minutes, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong enquired about the response time for responding to the remaining 2% of emergency calls. Acting Chief Ambulance Officer (CAO)(Ag) said that the response time of these cases ranged from 17 minutes to about 30 minutes for cases occurred in remote areas. FSD would look into every such case to find out the causes for not achieving the performance target. Appropriate improvement measures would be taken.

23. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong asked whether a mechanism was in place to assess whether assistance from the Government Flying Service (GFS) should be sought in cases where the travel time would likely exceed 16 minutes. In response, (CAO)(Ag) said that FSD would seek assistance from GFS when the need arose. Over 100 requests for evacuation by GFS helicopters were made each month. In deciding on the use of helicopter, factors such as whether there was appropriate landing site would need to be considered. Ambulance aid motorcycles (AAMCs) would be deployed to attend to cases where traffic congestion might occur. Assistance from the Marine Police would also be sought if necessary.

24. Chief Fire Officer (CFO) added that depending on the location of the accident, an ambulance would be despatched to the scene, and simultaneously a GFS helicopter or a marine launch would be deployed. He pointed out that GFS helicopters were not always readily available due to other commitments, staff of the Fire Services Communication Centre (FSCC) would mobilize the nearest available ambulances.

25. In response to a follow-up question from the Chairman, CFO said that the proposed performance of responding to 92.5% of all emergency calls within 12-minute response time would be adopted for measuring the interval between the receipt of a call and the arrival of an ambulance, a helicopter or a police launch at the scene. For emergency calls in the remote areas or outlying islands, the performance of EAS would not be able to achieve the target.

26. Mr Michael HO enquired about the progress of the provision of 31 additional ambulances and the planning of new ambulance depots at North Point, Sheung Wan, Kwai Chung and Kowloon Tong as informed by the Administration at a joint panels meeting in April 1996. PAS/S(SD) said that 27 new ambulances and 11 AAMCs had been procured and 72 ambulances had been replaced. In 1997/98 and 1998/99, more than 200 new posts were created to implement the consultant's recommendations. Three batches of ambulancemen had completed training and about 240 of the graduates had rendered active service. The next batch of about 100 graduates would render active service in April 1999. At the request of members, PAS/S(SD) agreed to provide information regarding the progress on the building of new ambulance depots, the replacement of ambulances, the recruitment of ambulance crews, and their respective target that had been met so far as well as the anticipated target to be achieved by April 1999.


27. Mr Andrew WONG said that members were advised by the Administration in 1996 that the activation time for EAS was one minute. Taken into account the existing performance target of ten-minute travel time, FSD should propose a response time of 11 minutes, i.e. one minute for activation and ten minutes for travelling.

28.CFO explained that if ambulances were turned out from fire stations or ambulance depots direct, the respective activation time would be about one minute. However, most calls for EAS occurred between 8:30 am and 11:30 pm. Inevitably, about one-third of such emergency calls were required to be responded by ambulances on the road. These would lengthen the activation time. At present, the locations of ambulances had to be constantly updated onto the computer-aid despatch system manually. Very often, FSCC staff had to track the latest location of an ambulance through radio system when a call was received as the location shown on the despatch system was not current. Due to the deficiencies of the despatch system, the one-minute activation time could not be met under the circumstances. He expected that the one-minute activation time could be achieved after the existing despatch system was upgraded.

29. Mr Andrew WONG further pointed out that as revealed in the 1995 consultancy study, the activation time was one minute. In response, CAO(Ag) said that the consultant concerned had carried out an one-day observation at FSCC and collected data of a short sample period. The activation time was calculated by averaging the total activation time against the total emergency calls received during that period. He pointed out the mobilization and despatch of ambulances had become more complex since the completion of the 1995 consultancy study, having regard to the different types of ambulance in use, e.g. ambulance, AAMC, paramedic ambulance, etc. Owing to the need to clarify the status of a patient, the despatch time of a paramedic ambulance would be longer. Improvement could be made when a new searching algorithm was adopted for the deployment of different types of ambulance. PAS/S(SD) supplemented that after FSD had commissioned the trial scheme using trunked radio system to measure the response time performance of its EAS, the accuracy and reliability of data collected was ensured in calculating the activation time.

30. Referring to para.10 of the information paper, Mrs Selina CHOW enquired about the criteria adopted for selecting the overseas countries for comparing the EAS performance. CAO(Ag) said that FSD had made enquiries to 11 countries/regions about their respective performance targets of EAS. Most of them responded that they did not have such performance targets. For those which had performance targets, records on actual performance were not kept. Only its counterparts in London and New South Wales had furnished FSD with the requested information. FSD had also requested information from its counterparts in Thailand, Singapore and Japan which had indicated that they did not have performance pledges for EAS. At the request of the Chairman, CAO(Ag) agreed to provide the respective responses of the countries which had been approached for information on performance of EAS.Adm

31. Responding to Mrs Selina CHOW's follow-up question, CAO(Ag) said that the performance target of EAS in London was a response time of 14 minutes and an activation time of three minutes. He pointed out that the performance target of EAS in London, however, was for planning purpose, e.g. provision of ambulances. Whilst for New South Wales, the performance pledge was responding to 95% of all the emergency calls within 15-minute response time. Records on actual performance of EAS were not available from the EAS of London and New South Wales.

32. The Chairman invited the Administration to respond to the letter from the Hong Kong Fire Services Department (HKFSD) Ambulance Officers Association (LC Paper No. CB(2) 403/98-99 (01)). CFO said that the performance target of EAS did not compare unfavourably with the six-minute response time of the fire services as stated in the Association's letter. For EAS, the 10-minute travel time target applied as a standard throughout the territory irrespective of the location of the caller. However, a graded response time target was adopted for fire services. It varied from six minutes in urban area up to a maximum of 23 minutes in the remote areas. A comparison between the performance target of EAS and the fire services could not be valid because of the different nature of the services. It was relevant to compare the performance target with the standards of its overseas counterparts.

33. Members noted from HKFSD Ambulance Officers Association's submission that the 12-minute response time compared unfavourably with the target and actual performance of many urban ambulance services throughtout the world. To faciliate members' deliberations on the subject, members agreed to request the Association to further elaborate on this point and provide the relevant information in support of the argument.

(Post-meeting note : A letter was issued on 15 October 1998 to the HKFSD Ambulance Officers Association for further information and the response from the Association was subsequently issued to members vide LC paper No. CB(2)640/98-99 dated 16 November 1998.)

34. The Chairman asked if the Administration had any specific plan and timetable to reduce the response time. PAS/S(SD) said that the performance of EAS under the existing target was successfully maintained at over 89% in 1996, 1997 and the first eight months in 1998 despite the substantial increase in number of emergency calls. The performance levels in July, August and September 1998 had been improved with the provision of additional resources and the implementation of some management measures. He envisaged that after the new recruits rendered active service in the second quarter of 1999, the performance of EAS could achieve the target of responding to 92.5% of all emergency calls within the 12-minute response time target. Having achieved the target, FSD would review and consider the feasibility of responding to 95% of the calls within 12 minutes or further reducing the response time.

IV. Recent riot at the Ma Po Ping Prison
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 382/98-99(06))

35. Deputy Secretary for Security 2 (DS/S(2)) said that on 27 July 1998, an incident occurred at the Ma Po Ping Prison (MPP), during which 19 prisoners and two Correctional Services Department (CSD) staff sustained injuries. As separate complaints had been filed with the Police about assault by CSD staff and the Police's investigation was underway, disclosing the full findings of the Board of Inquiry (the Board) might prejudice their investigation and/ or any criminal proceedings resulting therefrom. Hence, a summary report on the enquiry was provided for members information. DS/S(2) assured members that the Administration would disclose the full report (except the personal data and prison security information in the report) after the completion of the Police's investigation and any criminal proceedings that might be resulted.

36. Noting from para.10(a) of the summary report of the incident, the Board had concluded that the use of force by MPP Correctional Services staff on 27 July 1998 was the minimum necessary and its use was justified in controlling a disturbance, Mrs Selina CHOW wondered if it was premature for the Board to make such conclusion given that an investigation was being carried out by the Police. Even only one CSD officer was found to have applied unnecessary force, such a conclusion would be inappropriate. DS/S(2) said that para.10(a) of the summary report gave an account of the incident. The Board was of the view that the strategy for overall handling the incident by CSD staff on the day was justified in order to prevent the outbreak of a disturbance in MPP. As stated in para.10(c) of the summary report, the Board also noted that individual prisoners had filed complaints against identified CSD officers for applying unnecessary force and had conducted investigation into them. Separate complaints had also been made to the Police who were making their independent investigation.

37. Mrs Selina CHOW opined that the crux of the matter was whether the degree of force used by CSD staff was justified. DS/S(2) said that the use of force would be unjustified if there was no such need in the circumstances. Even if the use of force was needed to control the situation at the first instance, it would be unjustified if the force was applied after the situation was under control. If the complaints against some CSD staff about the use of unnecessary force to prisoners who had already squatted down were substantiated, such act would constitute the use of unjustified and unnecessary force. DS/S(2) added that the Board had also interviewed some 160 prisoners who were present on the day but not directly involved in the incident. There was no corrobative evidence to substantiate the complaints about a general misuse of force by CSD staff to prisoners who had already squatted down. In conclusion, the Administration accepted that the use of force was necessary for overall handling the incident. However, there might be individual CSD staff whose conduct was called into question. Disciplinary hearing against the CSD staff in question had been withheld pending completion of the Police's independent investigation.

38. Miss Emily LAU pointed out that according to the summary report, a disturbance was prevented from outbreak because of the prompt action taken by CSD staff. However, in her recent visit to MPP with another Justice of Peace, they had interviewed a number of prisoners who said that the situation was under control after CSD officers had applied force. She questioned whether any disturbance ever occurred. DS/S(2) said that the Board's findings revealed that, with the CSD staff's early intervention, there was no large scale disturbance. As provided in para. 6 of the summary report, intelligence indicated a potential outbreak of disturbance between two groups of prisoners. The prison management decided that anti-riot equipment should be made ready. During the recreational session on the day, some prisoners were seen clustering together in large groups in close discussion. Towards the end of the session, a group of prisoners were seen approaching a group of prisoners gathered on the other side of the Assembly Yard. CSD staff ordered the crowd to disperse to prevent a possible group fight. Subsequently, some prisoners were seen attempting to snatch batons from staff. If the situation was not brought under control quickly, it would give rise to a major disturbance. The Board was of the view that the prison staff had managed to restore order and discipline among the prisoners quickly, hence containing the situation. She pointed out that it was a violation of prison discipline if prisoners did not act in accordance with the order of CSD staff.

39. Miss Emily LAU said that the Administration had placed undue emphasis on the statements taken from those prisoners who were not involved in the incident. The prisoners interviewed by her and another Justice of Peace stated that they had seen some CSD officers applied unnecessary force to prisoners. She considered that an independent inquiry into the incident should be carried out. AC/IMS said that the Board had conducted a thorough investigation. 247 prisoners were present at MPP on the day. A total of 242 prisoners were interviewed by the Board. Five prisoners were not interviewed as they had been discharged after the incident. Of these five prisoners, one had filed a complaint with the Police and the latter's investigation was underway. Based on the statements taken, the Board noted that over 100 prisoners were seen marching to a group of prisoners at the other side of the Assembly Yard. When CSD staff ordered them to disperse, some did while some 60 prisoners did not follow the instruction and remained at the scene. Disciplinary proceedings had been taken against the prisoners who had violated prison discipline. As a result, only 43 prisoners were found to have violated prison discipline during the incident. Among them, 40 had pleaded guilty and 18 were released due to lack of sufficient evidence. DS/S(2) added that the 242 prisoners interviewed by the Board comprised 78 prisoners who had made complaints to CSD and 164 other prisoners who were also present on the day. In addition, 62 CSD staff were interviewed. She said that the Board did not adopt any arbitrary criteria for selecting interviewees, instead it interviewed every one present on the Assembly Yard on the day. General complaints against CSD staff on the use of unnecessary force to prisoners who had already squatted down were not substantiated due to a lack of corroborative evidence from the statements taken from other prisoners who served as witnesses to the incident. AC/IMS stressed that the Board had made its conclusion after taking into account all the evidence presented by all parties concerned.

40. Regarding the interview carried out by the two Justices of Peace, AC/IMS said that they had interviewed and received complaints from 98 prisoners during their visit on 6 August 1998. The prison management regarded the interview as a channel to receive complaints instead of conducting investigation. An investigation ought to consider views from all parties concerned. She noted, however, that the Justices of Peace had written to the Administration on their interview and the information had been taken into account. She pointed out that the findings of the Board revealed that the use of force by the prison staff was justified in order to control the situation. The Board was set up not to disprove complaints about the use of unncessary force by CSD staff but to find out the true picture based on available information and evidence.

41. The Chairman suggested the Administration to forward the interview report compiled by the two Justices of Peace on the incident and the video-tape kept by CSD to the Police so as to facilitate its investigation.Adm

42. In response to the Chairman, DS/S(2) said that the video-tape taken by CSD officer on the day was provided to the Police. The video-tape did record the use of force by CSD staff. She stressed that the use of force did not necessarily constitute any violation of Prison Rules. The crux of the matter was whether CSD staff had applied unnecessary or excessive force to prisoners where there was no such need.

43. In response to Mrs Selina CHOW, DS/S(2) said that the Administration did not have detail information regarding the number and the content of the complaints being filed with the Police. The Police would conduct separate and independent investigation into individual complaints in the first instance. Should new evidence be identified in the course of investigation, the Police would expand the scope of investigation as appropriate. AC/IMS added that as far as she knew, at least three prisoners had lodged complaints with the Police, including one filed by an ex-prisoner and two filed by family members on behalf of two serving prisoners.

44. Miss Emily LAU queried how the Administration could restore the confidence of the prisoners and members of the public in prison management without an independent inquiry. DS/S(2) said that apart from setting up a Board of Inquiry to look into the incident, the Police, The Ombudsman, some Legislative Council Members and Justices of Peace had also received complaints from prisoners about the use of unnecessary force by CSD staff during the incident. The Police was carrying out a criminal investigation into allegations of assault by identified CSD officers upon the prisoners. The Ombudsman had started collecting information on the incident. As several independent investigations were underway, she believed that what had happened during the incident could not be covered up and would be revealed in due course.

45. Regarding the role of visiting Justices, DS/S(2) said that under the Prison Rules, each penal institution should be visited by an official Justice of Peace and an unofficial Justice of Peace at least once every fortnight. The recent visit to MPP by the two Justices of Peace was not scheduled under the Prison Rules. Visiting Justices could hear and investigate complaints made by prisoners, inspect diets of prisoners and sanitary conditions of the penal institutions. Due to the limited resources made available to visiting Justices of Peace, they would normally refer to the Commissioner of Correctional Services for follow-up upon receiving any views or complaints from the prisoners. If the visiting Justices concerned were dissatisfied with the Commissioner's report, they could refer the case to The Ombudsman for an independent investigation. The Chairman suggested the Administration to consider reviewing the visiting Justices system in order to strengthen the system such as resource available to Justices of Peace to conduct investigation.Adm

In response to Mrs Selina CHOW, DS/S(2) said that the Police had concluded the preliminary investigation which had been referred to the Department of Justice. She hoped the report would be completed shortly.

46. The Chairman asked the Administration to keep the Panel informed of the outcome of the Police's investigation. DS/S(2) agreed.Adm

47. The meeting ended at 7:25 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
26 November 1998