Second guard arrested over shot fired inside mall

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 October, 2010, 12:00am

A second security guard involved in a shooting incident at a busy Causeway Bay shopping mall on Sunday night was arrested yesterday morning.

The 40-year-old was one of a five-strong Guardforce cash escort team carrying out duties at the Style House mall inside the Park Lane Hotel complex in Great George Street. He became involved in a heated argument with a 36-year-old colleague, who fired his shotgun into the ceiling near an HMV store. Police arrested the 36-year-old man that night.

A spokesman for the security firm said both guards had valid permits to carry arms and ammunition. He said the company had ranked their previous conduct as good.

'We are still trying to get more information on the case, including the cause of the argument. We have reminded our workers that they have a duty to ensure the safety of members of the public when carrying guns.'

Under the Security and Guarding Services Ordinance, all security guards must obtain a security personnel permit issued by the Security and Guarding Services Industry Authority under the Security Bureau. Those whose duties require them to carry guns have to apply for a separate permit from the police.

Li Hoi, general secretary of the Building Management and Security Workers General Union, said it was quite difficult to obtain a permit to work as an armed guard.

'A person must work for a security firm for a few years and have a good track record in terms of personality and working ability,' Li said. 'Only those recommended by a company can apply for such a permit.'

James To Kun-sun, vice-chairman of the Legislative Council's security panel, said: 'Many people have complained to the police ... that it is almost impossible to get the authorisation, and the force does not have to explain why the application failed at all.'

Of the 284,213 qualified guards in the city, only 1,409 are armed guard permit holders, the bureau says.

'Each year, a security firm will recommend only about 10 security guards to apply for the permit,' Li said, adding that Guardforce was one of three major security firms in the city, employing more than 200 people as cash escorts.

'Even after obtaining the permits, the security guards have to participate in tests every year assessing their emotional, mental and physical abilities to make sure they are suitable to carry firearms.

'They will also be reminded under what conditions they can use firearms.'

The bureau said the Security and Guarding Services Industry Authority carried out regular reviews.

It said the incident appeared to be an isolated case. 'The authority will continue to work with the police and the security and guarding services sector in improving the quality of service,' a bureau spokesman said.

Exclusive force

The city has more than 284,000 qualified security guards

Of these, only 1,409 can carry arms and ammunition, equivalent to: 0.5%