Force 'not to blame' for missing killer in midst

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 April, 2007, 12:00am

Australian criminologist Roderic Broadhurst, who helped analyse constable Tsui Po-ko's behaviour, sees no reason why the public should lose confidence in the police force because of the case.

He said it would have been almost impossible to pinpoint Tsui as a killer because he had not displayed any outwardly extraordinary behaviour before the shoot-out.

'We need to remember it was one of the exceptional cases where Tsui would not have been picked up by a particular problem,' Professor Broadhurst said yesterday, a day after the marathon 37-day inquest closed.

He said that from an investigative point of view, there was nothing for which the police could be blamed because they had tried hard to track down the culprit in the years after the first two killings, of constable Leung Shing-yan and guard Zafar Iqbal Khan in 2001.

But in terms of moral issues exposed during the inquest, such as gambling and visiting prostitutes, Professor Broadhurst said the public had been let down as policemen were generally expected to be professional not only in carrying out of their duties, but also in their moral conduct.

However, the public appears to be more satisfied than ever with the force's performance.

In a poll released by the University of Hong Kong last week, the number of people dissatisfied with the police hit a record low of 3 per cent. Some 1,007 people were interviewed in March, halfway through the inquest.

This compared with 5 per cent in a December survey and was the lowest figure since the survey was launched in July 1997. University pollster Robert Chung Ting-yiu said it appeared the inquest had boosted public confidence in the force.

But Dennis Wong Sing-wing, an associate professor of social science at City University, said the inquest and the investigation had made him lose confidence in the police.

'So many police officers care only where to eat, when they can take a rest and when they can have their pay cheques. How many of them really care about law and order?'

He also criticised the force's rigid promotion system and its fierce internal competition. One explanation of Tsui's motives put forward at the inquest was his dissatisfaction at not being promoted.

Police Inspectors Association chairman Tony Liu Kit-ming said a lack of promotional opportunities did not necessarily mean dissatisfied police.

He said that as the expansion of the force ceased after 1997, police management had turned to other ways of motivating officers rather than through the limited promotions that were on offer. This included life-long learning and the chance to work in other departments, such as the bomb-disposal unit.

A police spokesman said about 300 officers were promoted annually - a figure that was expected to rise over the next few years.