POLICING

Guangzhou to replace local 'goon squads' with citywide force

'Silver Shield' will see notorious local security forces replaced by 30,000 citywide officers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2012, 4:36am

Guangzhou plans to set up 30,000-strong auxiliary police force to replace its notorious local security squads, although some residents are sceptical about how much the move will do to end abuses of power.

The programme - dubbed "Silver Shield" by the Guangzhou police - would create a citywide force of baton-carrying officers to supplement Guangzhou's regular police force of more than 30,000.

The plan, reported by The Southern Metropolis News yesterday, is awaiting approval from the city government and is expected to be enacted next year.

Squads now hired by sub-districts, towns and villages and communities have long been criticised for poor training and management. Brutality and abuses of power have been blamed for igniting or escalating incidents of unrest, including the riot last year in Zengcheng .

The auxiliary force would receive 30 per cent of its funding from the city, with the rest being shouldered by district governments.

Its members would be recruited and overseen directly by the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau, which would assign them to various community security details and patrols. Each auxiliary police officer would be equipped with a baton and a stab-resistant uniform.

Guangzhou-based rights lawyer Tang Jingling said it believed the move was just an attempt by the government to gain greater control to tackle social instability.

He said all law enforcement should by carried out by fully trained police officers.

"Polishing up a new security squad is a superficial means to treat boiling social tension," Tang said. "The government needs to be more sensitive to public opinion in the first place and address their issues, not by means of control."

Internet users expressed concern about funding the new force and questioned whether it would only lead to more abuse.

"It's only a change of name and re-outfitting local thugs and triads with a sub-police uniform," said an internet user using the name Reformist Comrade Gecheng.

"They are the same thing after all."