40pc of women officers want to carry firearms
By DARREN GOODSIR
JUST under half the police force's 2,800 women officers want to be trained to carry firearms.
Interim results from a survey of all female ranks, which finished last Saturday, show 40 per cent of 2,500-odd junior officers have indicated a desire to be given weapons training.
However, in the ranks at or above inspector, 75 per cent of the 300-strong bracket want to have guns.
In a 1991 poll 15 per cent of women responded favourably to having firearms.
The figures follow the processing of about 70 per cent of survey forms, distributed to all women last month.
Management must now decide how to determine which officers will be selected first for training.
The survey was needed because, despite deciding last year that new women recruits would carry guns, Commissioner Eddie Hui Ki-on has insisted no serving female officers should be forced to bear arms.
Most who have declined to take up the challenge are older officers or those with families who have desk duties.
Force chiefs are studying the possible recruitment of female officers to the Police Tactical Unit, the internal security contingent, and use of more powerful weaponry.
However, the Chief of Staff, the force's top policy-making body, has yet to decide on the logistics of the arming of women.
Assistant Commissioner (Training) Denis Shackleton said the timing and nature of the training programme would depend on final survey results. However, he indicated the preference for women to be trained in the shortest possible time.