Police chief sounds recruitment alarm

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 December, 2004, 12:00am

The police chief yesterday warned that services might be affected if intake levels for recruits do not increase in future.

On a Commercial Radio talk show yesterday morning, Commissioner of Police Dick Lee Ming-kwai said his comment was not a threat levelled at the government to fight for extra manpower but he was giving the facts.

He said there were now about 1,000 vacancies and the situation would become worse as retirement and resignation numbers reached 1,000 each year from 2007.

This year, the force is allowed to recruit only 230 staff under the government exemption on recruitment for discipline forces. But that is far below the 700 officers who retired or resigned this year.

'If we do not increase the new intake numbers from now, there will be no successors to fill these accumulated vacancies,' Mr Lee said.

He expressed concern that no young and energetic officers could fill future vacancies in the elite Flying Tigers unit, the airport's special duty unit and the VIP protection unit.

'My responsibility is to reflect the facts to the government. If I do not speak out about the problem, the government will never know the difficulties that the police are facing,' Mr Lee said.

He said he had talked with Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong about the manpower problem.

Mr Lee hoped the government would allow the force to increase the number of new recruits but refused to reveal the number needed.

Mr Lee predicted that the number of crime cases would fall by 8 per cent and violent crime incidents would drop 5 to 6 per cent this year compared with last year.

Meanwhile, Mr Lee said he had noticed there was a delay in releasing bulletins to alert journalists of news in some cases on Friday.

From last Thursday night, a digitally encrypted radio system came into use to prevent the media from eavesdropping on police messages.