Police watchdog bill to have little bite without changes: lawmaker

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2008, 12:00am

Lawmaker James To Kun-sun wants to make 77 amendments to the proposed Independent Police Complaints Council Bill, which he says will create an impaired statutory body if it passes as is.

Under the bill, the statutory police watchdog would get an estimated HK$17 million budget a year with an independent secretariat that could recruit its own staff.

The bill, aimed at enhancing the watchdog's credibility and public confidence, and its amendments face a vote on July 9, the last day of the legislative term. Mr To, vice-chairman of the Legislative Council security panel, said the public could expect little change under the proposed new council because its hands would remain tied.

'The council is at the risk of being impaired,' the lawmaker said.

The watchdog would still not have the power to make its own investigations and police would remain responsible for probes and would classify complaints - the same as now.

'In certain situations, for example when a police officer complains against another over power abuse, the IPCC will not be allowed to monitor the probe, as it is restricted to dealing with complaints from the public,' he said.

The proposed new council would remain affiliated to the Security Bureau but a public right to appeal to the Ombudsman over perceived breaches would end under the new bill.

Seventy-seven proposed amendments to the bill would be tabled next month but Mr To said he did not expect them all to be passed.

'The administration has tended towards several concessions over the bill but they do not go far enough,' he said.