Zhou Yongkang

Police reforms put more officers on the beat

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 March, 2005, 12:00am


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The mainland is experimenting with policing reforms in several regions, hoping to make its public security forces more efficient and accountable.

In a pilot programme in Jilin that could extend to the entire province, the city of Liaoyuan has abolished police bureaus in two districts, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

The streamlined system has seen the percentage of the force's officers on the street jump from 48 per cent to 90 per cent. Police patrols now report directly to a new monitoring agency under the municipal police department's direct control.

As a result, more than 450 police officers who spent most of their time behind desks have been redeployed to street duties, where they are most needed.

Wang Yong , a professor at the Chinese People's University of Public Security, said: 'After a long period of consideration, Chinese police have found that - just like in other countries - putting officers on the street is the best way to prevent crime.'

The Liaoyuan police reform has received positive feedback from the central government, with Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang suggesting that the rest of the country should follow suit.

Police reform is being driven partly by rapid social change. In the past, police could easily keep tabs on people under the rigidly administered household registration system, but that has weakened as the population becomes more mobile.

Another reform programme that could be extended has been pioneered in Sichuan province and involves a steady recruitment plan adopted to enlarge the size of the police force.

The plan announced by the Sichuan public security bureau in January includes hiring 5,000 officers in the next five years.

Chongqing also planned to increase its public security force by 10,000 this year, the paper said.

'Chongqing is a giant city with a population of about 30 million, but we only have 30,000 cops,' Zhu Mingguo , head of the city's police force, was reported as saying. Mainland police are thin on the ground, with only 12 officers for every 10,000 citizens. Experts say the international average is 30 to 10,000.