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LCQ6: Borrowing facilities of other organisations in the course of exercising Police duties

     Following is a question by the Hon Gary Fan and a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, in the Legislative Council today (July 8):


     I have recently received complaints from some members of the public that they found that during the "anti-pocket-it-first march" initiated by the Civil Human Rights Front on June 14 this year, a number of police vehicles parked in the playground of Queen's College, located near the starting point of the march, with some police officers passing through the main entrance of the school. These members of the public queried whether the Police had the power to requisition government school facilities in discharging police duties. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) which facilities in Queen's College were requisitioned by the Police on June 14 this year, and for what uses such facilities were requisitioned;

(2) of the legal basis for the Police to requisition public resources not under its control for discharging police duties, as well as the relevant procedure and criteria for approval; and

(3) as the resources of government schools are for education purposes, whether the Police or other law enforcement agencies are required to consider the intended uses of the resources of government schools or other government departments when borrowing them for use, so as to ensure that public funds are used properly and public resources will not be mismatched or even tilted towards law enforcement agencies?



     My consolidated reply to Hon Fan's question is as follows:

     According to the Police Force Ordinance (Cap. 232), the duties of the Police shall be to take lawful measures for regulating processions and assemblies in public places, preventing crimes and offences, and preventing injury to life and property etc.

     In handling public order events, the Police will conduct risk assessments and formulate action plans as well as contingency measures in light of the purpose, nature and number of participants of individual events, as well as the strategies and experience in handling similar past events etc. In the course of planning, if the Police consider that there is a need to borrow the facilities of public or private organisations on account of operational needs, the Police will communicate with those organisations and obtain their consent in advance.  The Police will also strive to minimise the impact on the organisations concerned. As a matter of fact, it is a common practice for the Police to borrow the facilities of other organisations in the course of executing their duties.

     On June 14 this year, there was a large-scale public procession from Victoria Park to the Legislative Council Complex on the Hong Kong Island. Given that the organisers estimated that there would be 50 000 participants in the procession, and that there would be a large number of people assembling at the starting point in Victoria Park before the procession began, the Police had to deploy sufficient manpower and vehicles in that place in order to cater for any emergencies. The Police therefore also needed to look for parking spaces for police vehicles in the vicinity of Victoria Park. On the day of the procession, in order to let the participants use the roads, some roads near the starting point of the procession as well as along the route were closed. The traffic would thus be more congested than usual. To avoid aggravating traffic congestion by parking a large number of police vehicles on the roads, the Police, having obtained prior consent from Queen's College, borrowed the south court of Queen's College near the Queen's College Old Boys' Association on June 14 for parking of police vehicles. In addition, the Police borrowed some classrooms and washrooms of the College for police officers taking a short break.

     I have to point out that it was a Sunday when the Police borrowed Queen's College's facilities and students needed not attend classes on that day. At the same time, taking into account that students or alumni of the College might use school facilities on that day, in order to minimise the impact, the Police borrowed the south court of the College on the day in question, while students and alumni could still use the other court of the College.

     As far as I understand, there were cases in the past whereby Queen's College had lent its facilities for use by other government departments or public bodies. For example, the College had been used as a polling station and a public examination venue. On June 14, besides Queen's College, the Police also borrowed the facilities of other organisations in the vicinity of Victoria Park.

     Generally speaking, public facilities may be used for various purposes in different times. Government schools are government premises, and in case of need, other government departments may contact the government schools concerned and apply for the use of these premises. Before borrowing any public facilities, law enforcement agencies shall definitely take various factors into thorough consideration, including the specific purposes of these facilities, for prudent use of government resources.

     President, when the Police borrow the facilities of public or private organisations on account of operational needs in handling public order events, they do so in order to fulfil their statutory duties and protect social interests as well as safeguard public safety and public order. Various organisations in the community all along understand the needs of the Police in their discharge of duties and are willing to co-operate with the Police as far as practicable. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to each of the organisations which has lent its facilities for use by the Police in the past. This spirit of Police-public co-operation is of paramount importance and is also the foundation of maintaining law and order. The duty of the Police is to serve the community. I hope that co-operation between the Police and the public can continue to intensify in future and that the efforts of the Police will continue to be supported and appreciated by the public.

     Thank you, President.

Ends/Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Issued at HKT 17:18


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