THE number of police officers in debt appears to have decreased, according to a survey conducted within the force from July to December last year. The study found there was a substantial drop in the number of loans to officers from the Police Welfare Fund and the Police Credit Union. Compared with the survey covering the first half of 1994, the amount of loans approved by the fund dropped from 1,213 to 794, while the number for union loans fell from 5,948 to 4,983. But the value of loans approved by the two sources decreased only slightly from $183 million to $175 million. The number of applications by the police for advances of salaries, another source used to indicate debt, recorded a minor decrease from 1,586 to 1,542. The amount of money involved dropped from $12.5 million to $11.1 million. The survey also showed the number of officers getting into debt from outside sources, such as bank loans, dropped from 180 to 145 in the latter half of the year. The majority of officers with loans were constables or senior constables. For the first time, the survey also showed 432 officers were subject to orders from the Inland Revenue Department for unpaid tax to be deducted from their salaries. The problem of debt in the police force was heavily criticised by the Director of Audit in 1993. The Legco Public Accounts Committee urged the Commissioner of Police to conduct regular surveys on debt.