50 years on, blue berets are still doing what they do best

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 November, 2008, 12:00am

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Police Tactical Unit (PTU), which has grown with the city since 1958 to meet Hong Kong's changing requirements.

Training for members, called the 'blue berets', emphasises crowd control and security management for large venues, and the unit faces a challenge next year when Hong Kong stages the East Asian Games.

Officers are trained in riot control and other techniques involved in protection of the public, so the PTU has been called out for crowd management during fireworks displays and tomb-sweeping days and to handle violent protests such as during the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in 2005.

PTU commander Tony Wong chi-hung said the unit was preparing security arrangements for the East Asian Games, during which it would oversee more than 20 venues at various locations.

Superintendent Franklin Chu King-wai said officers would be sent to the meeting of the Group of Eight industrialised countries in Italy next year to gain experience in security measures at a large-scale international event.

All Hong Kong police officers are rotated through the PTU for at least one stint during their service. The unit comprises six 170-officer companies, to form a 1,000-person group. Each officer is trained to handle firearms and in anti-crime and anti-riot tactics. Crowd management skills are honed during 12 weeks' training.