The police chief yesterday was regretful that officers at Tsoi Yuen Tsuen were unable to respond to a scuffle in time on Thursday.
Commissioner for Police Andy Tsang Wai-hung made the comments after police completed a review of the incident.
Activists accused officers of doing nothing when protestors scuffled with contractors who moved in to resume land in the village, which is being razed to make way for the high-speed railway to Guangzhou.
At yesterday's security panel meeting, Lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee criticised police for their handling of the incident in which activist Chu Hoi-dick scuffled with a worker at a barrier.
Tsang admitted that the actions of police were not perfect on the day. The police review showed that no demonstration area was set up and that protestors were allowed to move freely over a large area.
'Officers were not able to see what happened, therefore they were unable to respond in time,' he said.
'Police are fully aware of their responsibility to intervene whenever a crime occurs.'
He said officers were under orders to maintain public order and safety.