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Police statement on police officers on pre-retirement leave participating in public meetings

     Regarding police officers whilst on pre-retirement leave who participated in public meetings held at Sai Yeung Choi Street South Pedestrian Precinct in Mong Kok on August 4, Police today (August 8) issued the following statement:

     According to Section 18 of the Police Force Ordinance, every police officer is issued with a warrant card which is the proof of his/her appointment and authority. When officers proceed on pre-retirement leave, they will surrender their warrant cards to their senior officers on the last working day following which they will no longer have the authority to discharge constabulary duties.

     Article 39 of the Basic Law and Article 18 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights safeguard all Hong Kong residents to enjoy the rights and freedoms.  Besides being regulated by the laws, police officers, as Hong Kong residents, are also entitled to the same rights and freedoms.

     According to paragraph 34 of the Police General Orders (PGO), Chapter 6-01, a police officer shall at all times abstain from any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his/her duties, or which is likely to give rise to the impression amongst members of the public that it may so interfere. Except for in certain circumstances, a police officer shall not participate in political activities, which include:
(a)  lending support to, or participation in political activities of a political organisation;
(b)  speaking publicly, including to the media, on matters of a political nature other than in the course of official duties;
(c)  distributing political publications;
(d)  promoting or advocating political views or the electioneering platform of any candidate; and
(e)  canvassing or campaigning on behalf of a political organisation.

     The purpose of the above restrictions is to ensure all police officers do adopt a fair and impartial approach in discharging their daily duties. The restriction balances the civil rights of officers and the requirement for them to impartially discharge their duties. It also enables the public to appreciate police officers are politically neutral in order to maintain public・s confidence and trust in Police・s execution of duties.

     It is also important to highlight the following two points :
(1)  as officers on pre-retirement leave do not have the authority to discharge constabulary duties, their views and deeds therefore in general will not interfere with the impartial discharge of duties of Police.
(2)  with regard to the public meeting organised by an organisation held at Sai Yeung Choi Street South Pedestrian Precinct on August 4, based on the information currently available and the PGO mentioned above, the Force consider the public meeting not a political activity restricted by the PGO.

     The incident has drawn extensive debate and Police hope the community would consider the incident based on facts.

     Police respect people・s right of expression, and at the same time, expect people would grant their respect and support to the frontline police officers who are executing their duties.  The Force management understand the frontline officers・ sentiments of being insulted by abusive languages in the course of discharging duties, and believe many people share the same sentiments.

     Police will continue to handle public events and related incidents in a professional, fair and impartial manner and maintain communication with the community to avoid misunderstanding.  Members of the public are also advised to take heed of instructions of police officers and to cooperate with police・s work. It is an offence to deliberately obstruct a police officer in executing his/her duties and Police will take resolute and effective actions according to law.

Police report no. 184

Ends/Thursday, August 8, 2013
Issued at HKT 12:05


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