POLICE want to throw 'fouling ropes' under marauding Chinese vessels to try to stop brazen future incursion attempts. It is understood Marine Police have suggested adopting a range of tactics to step up responses - the majority of which have previously been banned by the Security Branch for fear of angering China. These include laying ropes in front of offending vessels in the hope they will tangle with the propellors. They also canvass disruptive manoeuvres in front of Chinese boats. On March 18, the Security Branch intervened to ban police taking stiffer action to prevent mainland vessels leaving Hong Kong waters. Police hope that, in the future - at the very least - a larger flotilla of vessels will be available to be rushed to the scene. In the past, the Royal Navy has fired on suspected smuggling vessels and generally used stronger tactics than police. Consideration is likely to be given to reinstating naval personnel in Marine Police Headquarters to give the military first-hand knowledge of possible incursions by Chinese gunboats. This arrangement was terminated in August last year, officially on manpower grounds, but is thought to have been at the request of the police. 'At the end of the day,' said one officer close to the recent fracas, 'we would have to back off - but at least we would have tried a whole lot harder.' The examination of the rules of engagement followed a crisis meeting convened on Tuesday by the Governor, Chris Patten, in which broader security and diplomatic options were examined to end the dispute. It is now believed Mr Patten was satisfied with the forces' measures. At the meeting were Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, Commander British Forces Major-General Bryan Dutton, Police Commissioner Eddie Hui Ki-on, Secretary for Security Peter Lai Hing-ling and his deputy, Ken Woodhouse. Flaws in co-ordination between police, the Royal Navy and the Government, exposed by the hijacking, will be ironed out in a series of meetings.