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S for S's speaking notes on security policy areas tabled at LegCo Finance Committee special meeting

     Following are the speaking notes on security policy areas of the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, tabled at the special meeting of the Legislative Council Finance Committee today (April 8):


     In the draft Estimates for the new financial year (2016-17), the two policy areas of "Internal Security" and "Immigration Control" under my responsibility will account for $36.7 billion, representing 7.5 per cent of the total government expenditure.

Law and Order

     The overall crime figure in 2015 represented a drop of 1.9 per cent, whilst the violent crime figure registered a decrease of 1.7 per cent as compared with 2014. It marked a new low since 1971. Most categories of crimes such as robbery, homicide, arson, domestic violence crimes and criminal intimidation recorded decreases.

     The major operational targets of the Hong Kong Police Force for 2016 are to combat violent crimes, triad syndicates and organised crimes, dangerous drugs and "quick-cash" crimes, to promote cyber security and combat technology crimes, and to ensure public safety and counter-terrorism work.

     A total of 87 additional posts will be created in the Hong Kong Police Force in 2016-17. These new posts are mainly for enhancing the Junior Police Call and youth work; providing manpower support for court and police facilities which will be commissioned; and enhancing the support for training units, the Licensing Office and information security, etc.

Control Points and e-Channel Service

     Last year the number of inbound and outbound passengers continued to increase, with over 296 million passengers passing through our control points, representing an increase of 2.1 per cent as compared with the figure for 2014. The total number of visitor arrivals was 59.3 million, representing a 2.5 per cent decrease compared with 2014.

     The Immigration Department (ImmD) will continue to flexibly deploy its manpower and implement various measures to cope with the ever-increasing workload at control points. These measures to enhance control points' capacity include enhancement of control point facilities, launching a new immigration control system, extension of e-Channel service, etc.

Mutual Use of Automated Immigration Clearance Service

     ImmD has entered into arrangements for reciprocal use of automated immigration clearance services with Korea, Germany and Singapore. To assist tourists and businessmen, it will continue to liaise with other countries and regions with close relationships with Hong Kong in tourism, commerce and trade to implement similar arrangements.

Talent Admission Arrangement

     We implemented a number of measures last May to assist outside talent, professionals and entrepreneurs to come and stay in Hong Kong in the face of the challenges of an ageing population and a shrinking labour force in Hong Kong.

     For the Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents, the response has been positive so far. Between last May and the end of February this year, ImmD received 247 applications, approving 135 of them. Approved applicants mostly come from the US, Canada, Australia and the UK and are exactly the human capital we need.

     ImmD will continue to work with the Economic and Trade Offices outside Hong Kong to promote the various admission schemes and the enhancement measures.

Comprehensive Review of the Strategy for Handling Non-refoulement Claims

     In the past two years, there has been a drastic increase of non-refoulement claimants in Hong Kong. Their abuse of the screening procedures and worsening crime situation have aroused concern over relevant social and public order issues.
     In 2016-17, the Government plans to increase manpower of the Immigration Department (ImmD) and the Torture Claims Appeal Board (TCAB) to handle the increasing claims and appeals. Accordingly, the expenditure for providing publicly funded legal assistance to claimants will also increase. ImmD expects the number of claims to be determined would increase from 2 200 this year to over 3 000 in 2016-17. ImmD will strive to expedite screening of more claims under the existing legal framework through administrative measures.

     To more effectively tackle the problem of illegal immigration and overstaying, the Government has launched a comprehensive review of the strategy for handling non-refoulement claims in four dimensions, namely pre-arrival control, screening procedures, detention, and law enforcement and removal. Given the complexity of the review and the number of stakeholders involved, as well as the need to implement feasible and effective proposals (including legislation proposals) as soon as possible, we propose to create two supernumerary posts in the Security Bureau and ImmD to dedicate efforts in spearheading the review. The Security Panel of the Legislative Council supports the proposal. We will submit the proposal for endorsement by the Establishment Subcommittee under the Finance Committee as soon as practicable.

Public Safety

     The Fire Services Department (FSD) will have a net increase of 61 additional posts in the new financial year, mainly for manning the newly commissioned Fire and Ambulance Services Academy; enhancing the control of dangerous goods; handling plan processing and acceptance inspection relating to railway development projects; adding ambulance shifts; and strengthening the FSD's capability in handling incidents involving hazardous materials, etc.

     To ensure the safety of front-line personnel and the efficiency of operations, the FSD will replace fire service and ambulance equipment in a timely manner. The expenses on the procurement of fire appliances, vessels, ambulances and major equipment, etc for the new financial year are estimated to be around $390 million. The FSD will continue to promote a fire safety culture in the community and encourage the proper use of emergency ambulance services through public education and publicity programmes.

Custody and Rehabilitation

     The Correctional Services Department (CSD) has been dedicated to improving ageing correctional facilities. Works of the partial redevelopment programme of the Tai Lam Centre for Women are in progress and will be completed by the end of this year. Efforts will continue to be made to enhance other correctional facilities.

     In addition, the CSD will continue to provide market-oriented vocational training to persons in custody and work with various sectors of the community to facilitate their re-integration into the society. The CSD will also make efforts to promote community education to disseminate to the youths the messages of leading a law-abiding and drug-free life as well as supporting offender rehabilitation.

Combating Drug Abuse Problem

     The number of reported drug abusers in Hong Kong has continued to decrease, with a more significant decline in the number of reported young drug abusers aged under 21. However, we will not be complacent, and will continue to tackle the drug problem in a holistic manner through the five-pronged strategy.

Promoting Establishment of Reporting System on Physical Cross-boundary Transportation of Large Quantities of Cash (the R32 System)

     In an effort to implement the recommendation of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, we conducted a public consultation exercise in mid-2015 for establishing the R32 System. We are collating the feedback received, with a view to formulating details of implementing the system in Hong Kong and taking forward the next steps in a timely manner.

Government Flying Service (GFS)

     In the coming year, the GFS will create 33 posts to cope with the significant increase in service demand, to enhance flight safety management and to address the internal management and manpower shortage issues of the department as previously pointed out by the reports of the Audit Commission and the Legislative Council Public Accounts Committee.

     Thank you, Chairman.

Ends/Friday, April 8, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:32


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