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LCQ16: Government supports the work of disciplined services
     Following is a question by Dr Hon Elizabeth Quat and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, in the Legislative Council today (November 9):


     Some members of the public have relayed to me that Hong Kong is a very safe city, thanks to our professional and dedicated disciplined services. Besides, as Hong Kong is currently facing various challenges (problems such as riots and bogus refugees), it is necessary for the Government to expand the establishment of the disciplined services, enhance their accoutrements and improve their conditions of service, so as to boost staff morale.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1)    given that the current retirement age of most police officers is 55 and, with the onset of a wave of retirement in the Police Force in the coming few years, there will be a wastage of a large number of experienced police officers, whether the Government will consider dealing with the retirement age of police officers flexibly; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(2)    whether it will allocate additional resources to the Hong Kong Police Force for it to expand the establishment of the Police Force and procure additional accoutrements (e.g. the provision of Body Worn Video Cameras for every police officer), so as to cope with the need of maintaining law and order; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(3)    given that the work of firemen may involve complicated, urgent and dangerous situations, whether the Government will establish for the Fire Services Department (FSD) an independent grade structure and pay scale similar to those for the Police Force, and allocate to FSD corresponding resources; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(4)    as some firemen have reflected that, due to manpower shortage in FSD, they have to start performing duties after receiving professional rescue training for a compressed duration, whether the Government will allocate additional resources to FSD to ensure that firemen start performing duties only after receiving adequate professional rescue training; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(5)     whether it will increase the manpower of the FSD for setting up dedicated inspection teams to perform, as a precautionary measure, routine fire safety inspections; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(6)    as there has been a significant rise in the number of non-refoulement claims in recent years, which has increased the work pressure of the Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre (CIC), the centre for detaining such claimants, coupling with the fact that repeated incidents of disturbances and fights occurred in the CIC in the past, which has posed threats to the safety of the staff of the Immigration Department (ImmD), whether the Government will increase the manpower of the CIC, and provide ImmD staff with adequate accoutrements and training, so that they can handle unforeseen incidents in an effective manner; whether the Government will allocate space to build detention centres for separate detention of claimants having committed crimes in Hong Kong and other claimants, with a view to facilitating the management work of ImmD staff; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(7)    whether it will expedite the studies on amending the Weapons Ordinance (Cap. 217) to put the ImmD within the ambit of the Ordinance, with a view to facilitating ImmD staff in discharging their duties; if it will, of the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that; and

(8)    given that quite a number of police officers, firemen and ImmD staff have relayed that the departmental quarters provided by the authorities are in short supply, whether the Government will build more departmental quarters for the various disciplined services; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The fact that Hong Kong remains one of the safest cities in the world is attributed to our professional disciplined services, which are strongly committed to their duties, highly dedicated and very diligent. The HKSAR Government has been supporting the work of the disciplined services in many aspects. The reply to Dr Hon Elizabeth Quat's question is as follows.

(1) The Police have formulated a detailed strategic human resources management plan to cope with the situation of natural staff wastage in the next few years. The Police will, based on their needs, adopt various measures on the extension of service of civil servants. Currently, the retirement age of all newly recruited police officers appointed on or after June 1, 2015 has been raised to 60. The Police will also engage retired police officers on contract terms where necessary to undertake ad hoc, time-limited or seasonal tasks. In addition, the Police will continue to process applications by police officers for final extension of service beyond retirement age, the maximum period of which has been raised to 120 days, in accordance with the prevailing mechanism. Besides, the Police will, based on their needs, deploy the mechanism that will be rolled out for further employment of civil servants beyond retirement age for a longer period.

     In addition to the above initiatives, the Police will strengthen recruitment and training in order to manage manpower resources effectively and ensure the smooth operation of the Police.

(2) The establishment ceiling of the Police has in general been on the rise over the past ten years, from 32,482 posts in 2007-08 to 34,081 posts in 2016-17. The Police will continue to review from time to time their establishment according to their operational needs.

     In respect of equipment, the Police have been regularly examining the equipment of police officers and will update and procure equipment if necessary. The scope of work of the review committee established by the Police after the Mong Kok riot also includes examining equipment. Indeed, the Police have already procured additional personal protective gear for frontline police officers to enhance the safety of police officers in their execution of duties, including helmets, goggles, protective gloves and protective boots etc. The Police have also procured more Body Worn Video Cameras to enhance the capability in gathering evidence on scene.

(3) to (5) The Fire Services Department (FSD) has been providing high-quality fire-fighting, rescue and ambulance services to members of the community, which is of paramount importance to the public safety of Hong Kong.  Fire and ambulance personnel also often discharge their duties under extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances.

     The establishment ceiling of the FSD has in general been on the rise over the past ten years, from 9,319 persons in 2007-08 to 10,462 persons in 2016-17. The FSD will continue to review from time to time its establishment according to its operational needs.

     Adequate professional training is crucial to the FSD's personnel in the discharge of fire-fighting, rescue and ambulance duties. The FSD therefore reviews from time to time the programmes and contents of the prevailing professional rescue training to meet the needs of the community and tackle various safety hazards. The new Fire and Ambulance Services Academy has commenced operation in early 2016. With an area of 158 000 square metre, the new Academy was developed at a cost of over $3.5 billion and is equipped with advanced facilities, such as live fire training and professional training grounds, which can provide new recruits with better basic training and offer in-service members with more comprehensive training. This can help consolidate and augment their professional abilities to face new challenges brought by changes of the times. Furthermore, fire and ambulance personnel can receive training together in the new Academy, thus strengthening their co-ordination and response capability in handling incidents.

     On fire prevention, the FSD has been committed to abating fire hazards by carrying out fire safety inspections, taking necessary law enforcement actions and advising on fire prevention measures. Moreover, targeting various fire risks in the community, the FSD has set up task forces for different fire safety problems to step up inspection in respect of suspected irregularities. In recent years, the FSD has set up different task forces for different areas of fire prevention work through creation of additional posts and internal redeployment of manpower.

     The Government will, having regard to factors such as the overall fiscal position, policy priorities, as well as the actual needs of the departments etc, provide the departments with the resources for handling ongoing and additional tasks as appropriate. As regards the proposal of establishing an independent grade structure and pay scale for the FSD, the relevant bureaux and the FSD management will maintain communications with its staff.

(6) Since 2009, the Immigration Department (ImmD) has from time to time invited the Correctional Services Department (CSD) to organise joint courses on detention centre management and tactical training for all the ImmD officers to be deployed to the Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre (CIC). Moreover, the CSD also provides CIC officers with refresher tactical training four times each year, with a view to consolidating and strengthening their knowledge and competence for performing the job, as well as enhancing their management skills and response capability. Meanwhile, the ImmD provides the personnel stationed at the CIC with regular training courses, including fire drills, simulation and scenario training, resistance control, escort skills and use of relevant anti-riot equipment etc. The HKSAR Government attaches great importance to the safety of frontline officers and daily management of the CIC. The Government reviews the operation of the CIC from time to time and will increase manpower where necessary. The Government will carefully consider the necessary manpower resources and relevant arrangements if there is a need to expand the CIC's detention capacity or provide additional detention facilities.

(7) As part of the comprehensive review of the strategy of handling non-refoulement claims, we will consider measures to strengthen the ImmD's capability for detaining illegal immigrants (including non-refoulement claimants) and managing detention facilities, taking into account relevant legal, resources and security considerations.

(8) To alleviate the shortfall of departmental quarters, the Chief Executive announced in the 2014 Policy Address that the Government would expedite eight departmental quarters projects for disciplined services, aiming at providing more than 2,200 flats by 2020. On the other hand, to optimise the use of land resources, the Government has been striving to raise the plot ratio or relax the height restrictions of the sites for the provision of additional flats. The departments concerned will continue to closely keep in view the demand situation of departmental quarters and, at the same time, proactively take forward various departmental quarters projects.
Ends/Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:36
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