Anti-terror squad beefs up ahead of key events

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 January, 2012, 12:00am


The Hong Kong police force is to spend HK$2 million to upgrade and expand its anti-terrorist capabilities ahead of the inauguration of a new chief executive and the 15th anniversary of the handover.

While the city's terrorist-attack risk level remains 'moderate', the force's key points and search division - which works to make potential terrorist targets safe - is to buy three new detectors and radars to detect chemicals and explosives. A spokesman for the 28,000-strong police force said that purchases were made from time to time to replace equipment or enhance the unit's overall operational capability.

'All of these procurements are regular activities of the division to make sure that the unit is functioning effectively,' he said.

The unit recently bought two handheld detectors of explosives and chemicals, which use Raman spectroscopy and Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy to analyse substances they suspect could be explosives. Each detector cost about HK$500,000 and is capable of identifying 5,000 chemicals in seconds.

The unit, which with the operations division and the counter-terrorism and internal security division form part of the force's operations bureau, is also planning to spend about HK$1 million on a ground-penetrating radar to replace its existing one, which has been in use since 1997. The radar is used to detect underground hollows and buried or concealed objects.

Before important events vulnerable to attack, such as dignitaries' visits, the 450-strong key points and search division carries out venue searches and security screening at entrances to venues. It also provides security advice to organisers.

The unit is also to hire 40 officers of the rank of constable to inspector and conduct a series of refresher training courses for existing unit members, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the unit's three-week training course has been extended to four months, with an 18- to 24-month workplace attachment.

The course has been revised to place more stress on knowledge and principles behind crime fighting rather than simply practical, on-the-job tasks. The course was the first run by a government department to be recognised by the Education Bureau's qualifications framework, and is equivalent to a diploma course at other educational institutions.

The unit is seeking to co-operate with universities for credit exemptions for graduates seeking places on security-related programmes.


Number of students in the first batch of graduates from the Key Points and Search Division's revised course