WOMEN may in future be fully integrated into the Police Tactical Unit (PTU) as management continues to improve job prospects for female officers. The women would be given equal access to the arsenal of the blue beret unit, including semi-automatic rifles, tear-gas guns and batons. It emerged yesterday that PTU Commandant Chief Superintendent Gus Cunningham had begun exploring the viability of enlisting women. 'I'm looking into it at the moment but the integration would be taken in a series of stages,' he said. 'I can see no reason why women should not be fully integrated into the PTU, but I think it's a little further down the track.' Mr Cunningham said he would examine the tactical units in other countries, including Japan and South Korea, where women were integrated, to work out the practicalities. Although the PTU already has a women-only company, there is no integration with male officers. This 205-strong Tango Company was initially formed to deal with possible crowd control problems or sit-in demonstrations by groups of women protesters. All male officers normally spend about one year on assignment to the PTU where they undergo training in internal security, crowd management and dealing with armed suspects. They are then deployed around the territory. The PTU companies are deployed on specialist anti-crime and anti-illegal immigrant duties. Earlier this week, police revealed the number of women applying to join the force had jumped 20 per cent since the decision in November to arm women officers. Female officers from the Kowloon West and Hong Kong Island Emergency Units last week completed a revolver training course and will soon take part in a pilot scheme. New female recruits at the Police Training School are also undergoing the same firearms training as their male counterparts. Women comprise about 10 per cent of Hong Kong's 27,000 police officers. Most male police undertake PTU training several times during their careers.