LC Paper No. CB(2) 2783/98-99
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/PL/SE/1
LegCo Panel on Security
Minutes of special meeting held on Tuesday, 29 June 1999
at 2:30 pm in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building
Hon James TO Kun-sun (Chairman)
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Member attending :
Hon CHAN Kwok-keung
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
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 Gary CHENG Kai-nam, JP
Public Officers attending:
Clerk in attendance:
- Item I
- Mr Raymond WONG
- Deputy Secretary for Security 1
- Mr Philip CHAN
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E
- Mr LEE Ming-kwai
- Director of Operations
Hong Kong Police Force
- Mr LAM Kin
- Chief Superintendent (Support)
Hong Kong Police Force
- Mr CHAU Cham-chiu
Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force
Hong Kong Police Force
- Item II
- Mr SO Kam-shing
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Security D
- Mr LEE Ming-kwai
- Director of Operations
Hong Kong Police Force
Staff in attendance:
- Mrs Sharon TONG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2)1
I. Review of the Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force
- Miss Betty MA
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 1
(LC Paper No. 2412/98-99(01))
The Chairman said that the Concern Group on the Force Committee on the Auxiliary Police (the Concern Group) had made two further submissions which were tabled at the meeting.
(Post-meeting note : The above submissions were forwarded to absent members vide LC Paper Nos. CB(2) 2443/98-99(01) and (02).)
Briefing by the Administration
2. Director of Operations (Dir of Ops) said that the Administration had prepared an information paper responding to some points raised by members at the last Panel meeting held on 10 June 1999 regarding the review of the Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force (HKAPF). As outlined in the paper, the total savings generated was almost $170 million when the establishment of HKAPF was reduced to 4 500 through natural wastage. Dir of Ops stressed that the Force fully appreciated the dedicated service provided by the Auxiliary Police officers in the past. The review was to tie in with the value for money principle adopted in the Force. The review of HKAPF commenced as early as in 1992.
DiscussionRevised role of and modified training for the Auxiliary Police Force
3. Miss CHAN Yuen-han was of the view that the Force management failed to address members' concerns expressed at the last meeting, in particular the specific plan put in place to ensure the capability of Auxiliary Police officers to perform operational duties in case of emergencies and the reasons for introducing the drastic changes within such a short period of time.
4. In response, Dir of Ops said that the Force regarded HKAPF as a valuable asset of the Police Force. After the reform, HKAPF would continue to play an important role in providing support to the regular Police Force. In their redefined role, Auxiliary Police officers mainly served as a trained manpower reserve to support the regular Police Force in crowd management operations during major public events and festivals. In addition, their main functions in an internal security situation included key points protection, manning the command and control centres, Police station defence and consular premises protection. To tie in with the revised role and function of HKAPF, training for Auxiliary Police officers had been modified since 1 April 1999. Apart from attending practical training on beat duties, every member of HKAPF must comply with a total of 26 days training which included range courses, practical training on beat duties as well as practical training on crowd management and pre-planned operations in each year of service.
5. Mr Howard YOUNG asked whether the Force management had examined the respective cost effectiveness of the training provided for regular and Auxiliary Police officers in drawing up the recommendations. In response, Dir of Ops said that training provided for Auxiliary Police officers was only a part of the package of training for the regular Police officers. Hence, Auxiliary Police officers could not perform all types of duties undertaken by the regular Police Force, for example, duties in the Police Tactical Unit or related to crime investigation. In addition, the duty pattern of Auxiliary Police officers was irregular where most of them resumed duty during weekends and public holidays. Whereas the regular Police officers provided round-the-clock service throughout the year. Thus, most of the responsibilities of regular Police Force could not be assumed by Auxiliary Police officers.
6. Miss CHAN Yuen-han wondered if the manpower situation in the regular Police Force was the decisive factor for the engagement of Auxiliary Police officers. Mr Howard YOUNG said that the revised role of Auxiliary Police officers, whom were mainly responsible for crowd control, was quite different from the perception of the general public on HKAPF. He enquired whether the Force had critically examined the respective roles of HKAPF in drawing up the recommendations.
7. Dir of Ops said that the role of HKAPF was expanded to cover beat duties in 1970s because of the deteriorating crime situation and the recruitment problem faced by the Police Force at that time. The recruitment problem had greatly improved since 1996. Having regard to the fact that the regular Police Force was now up to establishment and hence had sufficient manpower to perform front-line operational duties, the Force management considered that there was a need to review HKAPF so that manpower resources were deployed in the most efficient manner. Taking into account the existing manpower situation of the regular Police Force, the review committee found that the case for Auxiliary Police officers to perform beat duties was no longer as strong as before.
8. Referring to the two further submissions from the Concern Group, Mr Howard YOUNG and the Chairman asked whether the Special Duty Quota was abolished with a view to meeting the target of the Enhanced Productivity Programme. Dir of Ops said that the review was not conducted to achieve savings as required under the Enhanced Productivity Programme. The Force adopted value for money principle as early as in 1990s. He pointed out that the Force had achieved savings in other units well before the introduction of the Enhanced Productivity Programme.
Manpower of regular and Auxiliary Police Force
9. To assess the sufficiency of the regular Police Force, the Chairman requested for a breakdown of its strength in the past few years. Dir of Ops responded that from 1996-97 to 1998-99, an additional of 115 inspectorate officers and 900 Junior Police officers as leave and training reserve posts for front-line policing, were created for the regular Police Force. During the corresponding period, the daily quota of the Special Duty Quota was reduced from 750 to 538. The establishment and strength in respect of uniform Police officers in the five land regions as at 20 May 1999 were as follows -
|Hong Kong||3 160||3 546
|Kowloon East||2 525||2 850
|Kowloon West||3 331||3 884
|New Territories North||3 564||3 837
|New Territories South||3 037||3 593
10. Mr Howard YOUNG asked whether consideration had been given to deploying Auxiliary Police officers as leave relief for the regular Police officers. Dir of Ops said that the Force Committee on the Auxiliary Police (the Committee) had taken this factor into account in drawing up the recommendations. The leave problem in the regular Police Force was relieved after the creation of some 1 000 leave and training reserve posts for the front-line Police officers. In addition, Auxiliary Police officers would now be deployed in accordance with the actual need and the availability of Auxiliary Police officers in respective districts.
11. Referring to point 3 of the second submission from the Concern Group (LC Paper No. CB(2) 2443/98-99(02)), Mr Andrew CHENG asked whether the Force had put in place any measures to cope with the need for leave relief of the regular Police Force upon the abolition of the Special Duty Quota. With an increasing amount of manpower resources being allocated to the regular Police Force, the concern expressed by Auxiliary Police officers about their prospect was understandable. Dir of Ops reiterated that the Force management had no intention to disband HKAPF. He explained that the reduction of more overtime work of the regular Police Force was due to the provision of some 1 000 additional leave and training reserve posts for front-line operational staff. In the light of sufficient manpower for performing front-line operational duties, there was no longer a need for overtime work.
12. Mr CHAN Kwok-keung said that the daily Special Duty Quota amounted to 538 reflected that Auxiliary Police officers did not only take up duty on Sundays and public holidays. In response, Dir of Ops clarified that the quota was the daily maximum number for duty Auxiliary Police officers. It did not necessarily reflect the actual number of Auxiliary Police officers who were on duty in a particular day. Commandant, HKAPF (Commandant), however, pointed out that the actual daily number of Auxiliary Police officers on duty would normally exceed the daily quota because the quota was calculated on the basis that a shift lasted for eight hours.
13. In response to the Chairman's enquiry about the forecast on the strength of the regular Police officers, Dir of Ops said that there would be no manpower shortage problem in the regular Police Force in the foreseeable future.
Proposed integration of Auxiliary Police officers with the regular Police Force
14. Mr CHAN Kwok-keung asked why Auxiliary Police officers would be required to perform operational duties in conjunction with regular Police officers having regard to the fact that the former received proper training and performed operational duties independently before the review. Mr CHAN questioned whether, in other words, training previously provided for Auxiliary Police officers was considered insufficient. Dir of Ops said that the Force would provide sufficient training for every Police officer to perform specific duties. He stressed that the proposed integration of Auxiliary Police officers with regular Police officers did not imply that an Auxiliary Police officer was going to be trained by a regular Police officer, but simply they would perform beat duties in conjunction with each other.
15. Mr CHAN Kwok-keung pointed out that the proposed integrated deployment of Auxiliary Police officers with their regular counterparts was an area of concern of the Auxiliary Police officers. He learnt that many Auxiliary Police officers had hard feelings that they were a burden on the regular Police officers under the new arrangement for performing beat duties. Dir of Ops stressed that the Force management had no intention to cause any hard feelings by introducing the proposed integration.
16. The Chairman said that the proposed arrangement differed from the existing arrangement to a large extent where Auxiliary Police officers were no longer allowed to perform beat duties independently. As Auxiliary Police officers were capable of performing beat duties independently in the past, he asked the Administration to consider allowing those recruited before the implementation of the review recommendations to continue to perform beat duties independently. Whilst for the new recruits, they would comply with the modified training requirement and their expectation would be different from serving Auxiliary Police officers.
|17. Dir of Ops responded that beat duty was only one of the various duties of an Auxiliary Police officer. The proposed integration of Auxiliary Police officers with regular Police officers to perform operational duties would be reviewed upon the completion of the six-month trial period. Members' suggestions would be considered. DS(S)1 added that some of the recommendations including a review of the syllabus of the basic training would be further studied.||Adm
Review of the implementation of recommendations
18. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong was of the view that the crux of the matter was to find out a win-win solution. He suggested the Force management to consider reducing the trial period on the proposed integration of Auxiliary Police officers with regular Police Force, which had started on 1 June 1999, from six months to three months. He also suggested that an independent committee consisting of representatives from the Civil Service Bureau and the Finance Bureau be set up to follow up the review of the role of HKAPF.
19. Dir of Ops responded that the Force endeavoured to explain the details and recommendations of the review to both regular and Auxiliary Police officers at District level in the past two months, i.e. April and May in 1999. From the feedback collated, the reform direction was considered necessary. It was, however, noted that some Auxiliary Police officers expressed disappointment with the reduction of opportunities to perform beat duties. As regards the proposal to set up an independent committee to further review the role of HKAPF, Dir of Ops said that there was no such need at the moment. At present, the Committee, headed by the Chief Superintendent (Support), comprised a representative from the Auxiliary Police Force. Regional Implementation Teams comprising regular and Auxiliary Police commanders based in each Police District would monitor the progress of the implementation of the review recommendations. Their views would be reported back to the Committee. Views from members of HKAPF on the implementation of the review recommendations were welcome.
20. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong said that the trust between the Force management and HKAPF had been destroyed to some extent as a result of the implementation of the recommendations arising from the review. Thus, the request from HKAPF for independent body as an arbitrator over the implementation of the recommendations was understandable. Deputy Secretary for Security 1 (DS(S)1) said that a review would be conducted upon the completion of the six-month trial. Feedback would be collated during the trial period with a view to formally implementing the proposal later. Any problems arising from the implementation of the recommendations would be addressed. A report would then be submitted to the Security Bureau which would examine the findings and recommendations from the policy point of view.
| 21. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong pointed out that members of HKAPF expressed worries that after the six-month trial period, the recommendations being implemented would become an established policy in the Force. Hence, he requested the Administration to consider shortening the trial period and clear the worries of Auxiliary Police officers. DS(S)1 said that the Administration did understand the concern of members of HKAPF. The Force management would strive to achieve a harmonious working relationship in the Force. The Administration would further consider Mr CHEUNG's suggestion.||Adm
22. At the invitation of Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong, Commandant said that in the light of his dual role in the Force, he would reserve his position regarding comments on the implementation of the recommendations arising from the review of HKAPF.
|23. The Chairman requested the Force to consider addressing some of the concerns of the Auxiliary Police officers which did not involve a matter of principle before the trial period ended such as abolishing the symbol on their uniform which differentiated an Auxiliary Police officer from a regular Police officer. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong echoed the Chairman's view. Dir of Ops said that the Force would consider members' suggestions.||Adm
24. The Chairman suggested that having regard to the valuable experience of individual Auxiliary Police officers, the Force management might consider retaining certain systems in HKAPF to tie in with the development of the regular Police Force. For example, the duty pattern of Auxiliary Police officers though unevenly distributed, most of them would be on duty during certain period of time in a day or in a week. The Force management might take account of this factor in drawing up the duty roster.
25. Dir of Ops stressed that maintaining law and order in Hong Kong should be assumed by the regular Police Force. The role of HKAPF would be a trained manpower reserve to support the regular Force. Hence, the recruitment for the regular Police Force should be an on-going exercise in order to ensure its continuity. Should Auxiliary Police officers be required to perform the same duties as regular Police officers, it was unfair to the former because their remuneration was lower than the regular Police Force. He reiterated that 96 hours practical training would still be provided to Auxiliary Police officers on performing beat duties under the modified training so that they would be able to take up operational duties when such a need arose.
II. Preventive measures against illegal immigrants
|26. The Chairman requested the Administration to consider the views expressed by members and reported back to the Panel of the findings of the review to be conducted upon the completion of the six-month trial period.||Adm
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 2412/98-99(02))
Briefing by the Administration
27. Dir of Ops said that since the Court of Final Appeal (CFA) delivered its judgment on 29 January 1999, the Police Force and the Mainland authorities had taken additional preventive measures against illegal immigration. There were some 1 000 Police officers on duty along the land border performed round-the-clock patrol. In addition, a variety of electronic equipment such as Thermal Imagers and Handheld Infra-red Under Vehicle Detectors was installed. Maritime patrol had also been stepped up. A total of some 60 Police marine launches were on full alert to monitor illegal immigration activities. Police officers on duty elsewhere in the territory had been put on full alert and intercepted illegal immigrants. The average daily illegal immigrants arrested from February to May in 1999 was 33. The figure was lower than the daily average number recorded in the preceding months as well as in the corresponding period in 1998.
28. Dir of Ops said that the Mainland authorities had also strengthened their border defence since the delivery of CFA's judgment. It had strengthened its intelligence network such as the introduction of a reward scheme for informants, launched educational publicity regarding illegal immigration and installed radar equipment for fast interceptors to combat illegal immigration. According to the statistics provided by the Mainland authorities, about 700 snakeheads were arrested between February and April 1999. According to the figures released by the Immigration Department and the Census and Statistics Department, over 80% of the illegal immigrants were intercepted by the Police within the first or second day upon their arrival in Hong Kong. In the light of the close cooperation between the Police and the Mainland authorities on the prevention of illegal immigration, it was believed that the number of illegal immigrants would be dropping.
29. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security D (PAS(S)D) added that before the delivery of CFA's judgment, the relevant departments had already adopted effective measures to combat the problem of illegal immigration.
30. The Chairman asked whether the effectiveness of the preventive measures adopted to prevent any possible influx of illegal immigrants after the delivery of CFA's judgment was due to the provision of additional manpower on the Mainland side; if so, he enquired about the duration of the provision of additional manpower by the Mainland authorities. Dir of Ops said that the additional preventive measures were undertaken by redeployment of manpower in the Force and the installation of electronic equipment. To further enhance the anti-illegal immigration capability of the Force, the improvement work to the sensor cable systems for the fence along the land border was in progress. The entire fence protection system amounted to $42 million would be completed by 2001. As to whether the Mainland authorities had deployed additional manpower for taking preventive measures, the Force had no information in this respect. It was noted that the Mainland authorities had strengthened its intelligence network on illegal immigration and installed radar system for maritime patrol. The Mainland authorities advised that their manpower for the existing arrangement could last for at least six more months.
31. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong said that it was reported that a number of Mainlanders visited Hong Kong for sight-seeing purposes on Two-way Permits under the "Hong Kong Travel" Group Tour Scheme (the Scheme) and overstayed after the expiry of the valid period. Some of them might not take up illegal employment, but simply to stay in Hong Kong for different reasons. He asked whether the Administration had adopted any plans to plug the loophole. PAS(S)D responded that the Immigration Department had always maintained close liaison with the Mainland authorities to minimize possible abuses of the Scheme, such as entry for illegal employment or overstaying. The Administration was aware that some Mainland residents might wish to visit Hong Kong to explore the possibility of lodging right of abode claims after the delivery of CFA's judgment. The Administration had drawn the Mainland authorities' attention to such possible abuse. To combat the problem of illegal employment, the Administration had stepped up raids against black spots. In addition, the relevant provisions of the Immigration Ordinance had been amended with a view to combating illegal employment in construction sites.
|32. Mr Andrew CHENG said that he had received complaints from residents or business operators in Chung Ying Street about the tightening access control to the Closed Area which had adversely affected their business. He asked whether it was part of the strengthening action on land. Dir of Ops responded that given that Chung Ying Street was an open border, the Police had to strike a balance between safeguarding illegal immigration and providing flexibility for business transaction. In the light of the delivery of CFA's judgment, the control along land border was enhanced. In addition, access control to Chung Ying Street was considered necessary for tackling illegal employment and smuggling activities in the area. Nevertheless, Dir of Ops said that he would liaise with the District Commander (Border) to study the viability of relaxing the access control to Chung Ying Street bearing in mind the importance of preventing illegal immigration and maintaining law and order in the area.||Adm|
33. The meeting ended at 4:10 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
23 July 1999