MORE than 600 new police posts have been allocated for the New Territories in a $90 million deal aimed at boosting the force in booming crime centres and areas with increased populations.
Police sources yesterday confirmed there would be about 200 police and 400 non-uniformed civilian positions created.
With the force's accent on civilianisation, the redeployment will ultimately see a greater police presence in areas where uniformed numbers have been lagging behind population movements.
Key police stations seeing a rise in established posts include Tin Shui Wai, Ma On Shan, Tseung Kwan O and Tai Hing.
These new stations have never been sufficiently staffed because of bureaucratic debate over manning levels and, as a result, police commanders - mainly in Kowloon - have long been forced to provide officers to alleviate shortages.
But this unofficial 'lending' policy has never brought the New Territories to an operational state considered adequate.
'This is an extremely positive development,' said one senior police officer involved in the battle for resource adjustments.
'We have needed to provide necessary establishments in these four new police stations which were opened without ever having been formally established.
'Most of the benefits are being achieved through greater civilianisation.
'What this package effectively means is we can put more police officers back on to constabulary duties.' Based on recent census calculations, the package will try to address police manpower, crime trends and population inequities.
For instance, more than 40 per cent of Hong Kong's population is estimated to live in the New Territories - and this will continue to rise - but a mere 32 per cent of police are stationed there.
Police feel the New Territories crime rate of 37 per cent of total offences is rising.
But in Kowloon, for historic reasons, 46 per cent of the force is required to serve only 38 per cent of the population.
Last month, the South China Morning Post revealed the results of an internal survey which indicated a disparity in New Territories officers assigned to beat duties.
In the New Territories North region, only 300 officers, including auxiliary police, were found to be on foot patrols.
The figure on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon - despite still being below police establishment - far outstripped the New Territories.