Police chief promises to tackle heavy workload

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 January, 2011, 12:00am

The new police chief has promised more resources to help criminal investigators cope with their heavy workload as he tries to revive hard-hit morale.

Andy Tsang Wai-hung (pictured) said he understood that a shortage of manpower had increased workloads and affected morale, particularly for inspectors who often had to work overtime to finish investigations.

'We can't keep asking our colleagues to do us favours by working overtime,' he said. 'Such a practice is not sustainable.'

The new police commissioner promised a slew of measures to improve the situation.

Before taking the top post this month, Tsang acknowledged the tremendous pressures facing frontline criminal investigators. But he dismissed union claims that many police officers were unwilling to become detectives because of the heavy workload.

The death of a 39-year-old detective inspector from a stroke early this month triggered a debate as many believed it was caused by excessive work pressure. The incident badly affected morale.

Unions used the incident to point to a shortage of officers in the Criminal Investigation Department. The dead inspector was being transferred to CID in spite of warnings that his health was not up to the job.

On a radio show yesterday, Tsang also spoke of a rise in the abuse of the 999 emergency call services by the public, saying this caused more work for the police.

He said the workload of police had risen by 7 per cent from 2009 even though crime figures had decreased by 2 per cent, from more than 776,000 cases in 2009 to about 759,000 last year.

'The problem of abuse draws our concern, as this has imposed extra work on our colleagues,' he said.

Tsang said police received more than 2 million 999 calls last year - half were abuses of the service or even pranks.

Of the rest, which needed follow-up action, half were trivial matters such as complaints of noise problems or illegal parking.

Tsang also said he wanted to tackle a rise in attacks on police. Last year there were 462 cases, which means more than one police officer was attacked a day. This compared with about 400 in previous years.

'When police are carrying out their duties, they should also be protected under the law and deserve respect from the community,' he said.

'Our police officers are fully equipped with different weapons and they are well trained to protect themselves, only they will not resort to force lightly.'

Tsang identified six major areas of work for the force this year: to combat violence, triad and organised crime, drug problems and get-rich-quick crimes, to improve public safety and to step up anti-terrorist operations.