LCQ19: Review and replacement of firearms by Police
It has been reported that MP5 submachine guns (MP5) have been extensively used by a number of units within the Police Force since the 70s of the last century, and a German firearms manufacturer has stopped selling MP5 as well as their parts and accessories to the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) starting from early last year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows the reasons why the aforesaid firearms manufacturer has stopped selling such firearms products to HKPF; whether other firearms manufacturers in Germany have also stopped selling such products to HKPF;
(2) whether the Police encountered any difficulty in purchasing firearms products from member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization other than Germany last year; and
(3) for how long the Police's existing stock of MP5 parts may last for repair purpose; whether the Police have commenced the procurement procedures for firearms products to replace MP5 and when the replacement exercise is expected to complete; whether a vacuum period of firearms shortage will emerge?
According to section 10 of the Police Force Ordinance (Cap 232), the Police have the responsibility to take lawful measures to maintain public order and public safety, as well as to safeguard life and property. On occasions where an act causing danger to others is occurring or is about to occur, the Police shall assess the circumstances on the scene and exercise professional judgment for taking appropriate actions, which include using the minimum force required to ensure public safety and public order. With regard to the questions raised by Hon Holden Chow, our consolidated reply is as follows:
Firearms are one of the most important equipment of police officers. When selecting firearms for use by police officers during their execution of duties, the Police will draw reference from the firearms used by law enforcement authorities of advanced countries around the world, and assess whether these types of firearms are appropriate for the environment and situation of Hong Kong. General beat officers, crime investigation officers, as well as police officers from the Emergency Unit, Police Tactical Unit and special units, etc. are all equipped with firearms.
The Police have very stringent rules and guidelines on the use of firearms. In general, police officers may use firearms to protect anyone, including themselves, from the threat of death or serious injury. According to the Police's principles on the use of force, police officers may use firearms only when no lesser degree of force can achieve the lawful purpose. Besides, police officers will give verbal warning prior to the use of firearms as far as circumstances permit and, where practicable, give the person(s) being warned every opportunity to obey police orders before using firearms.
Every police officer, whether newly recruited or serving, has to go through rigorous training on the use of force in order to fully understand how to use different levels of force in a safe and effective manner, thereby achieving the related lawful purpose. The above training includes the use of firearms, which serves to ensure that police officers have adequate training and capability to use firearms and can discharge their daily duties in a safe and effective manner. Police officers will receive training in marksmanship principles, performance check and safe operation of firearms, so that they may have a clear understanding of the marksmanship principles of using firearms and have adequate knowledge of operating handguns in an independent and safe manner while they are on duty.
As different Police units have different work nature, operational needs and specialties, officers are equipped with different firearms. For instance, the firearms issued to general uniformed beat officers differ from those issued to crime investigation officers, the Police Tactical Unit, Emergency Unit or special units in terms of models, performance, etc. In addition to firearms, each unit is also issued with other equipment based on operational needs. All along, the Police have kept on reviewing police officers’ equipment, including firearms and accessories, so as to provide the most appropriate and adequate firearms for officers’ use, as well as provide relevant training to ensure that duty and actual operational needs are met.
With regard to the Hon Member's question on the firearms used by police officers and the relevant procurement details, as they touch on operations and deployment, the details should not be disclosed or it may jeopardise the Police's operational capability.
Currently, there are many suppliers around the world which manufacture different types of firearms with different performance. The Police have all along been monitoring the supply of firearms of different types and performance by different countries, and procuring equipment or replacing them with more appropriate ones in light of needs. Regarding the procurement of firearms, the Police will, in accordance with the Government's established procurement procedures, procure the necessary equipment through appropriate tender procedures. The Police source their firearms from manufacturers in different countries rather than relying on any single supplier. The situation concerning the supply of certain types of firearms by individual manufacturers will not affect the Police's daily operations and law enforcement capability. In fact, the firearms used by the Police will change in light of different situations, including the supply of new firearms in the market, new operational needs of the Police, changes in operational deployment, or adjustments made to meet deployment, training and tactical needs, etc. Review and replacement of firearms by the Police is a normal matter and also a constant and necessary measure for maintaining daily operational and enforcement capability.
Ends/Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Issued at HKT 15:25
Issued at HKT 15:25