LIVES are being put in danger by the 'inadequate and confusing' rescue arrangements of the Marine Police, a study has found. It has recommended the Marine Police review their rescue arrangements and capabilities and suggests the Marine Department should take over. The possibility of establishing a Coast Guard with a combination of Marine, Customs and Immigration departments taking over some of the enforcement responsibility was suggested. But it was the review of search and rescue procedures that highlighted the greatest concern. 'The study team considers that the present arrangements for co-ordinating search and rescue operations inside Hong Kong waters are inadequate in terms of training, staffing and facilities and that this also causes confusion which may put lives at greater risk,' the report said. 'Search and rescue training needs to be seriously addressed so that launches and their crews can perform more efficiently and safely in this hazardous role. 'The study team considers that this is a strong case for all maritime search and rescue to be co-ordinated by the Marine Department's Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) and recommends that this should be reviewed by the Marine Region [police].' All rescue operations in Hong Kong's waters are the responsibility of the Director of Marine, who has delegated the role to the Marine Regional Commander. The Marine Regional Command and Control Centre is a rescue sub-centre beneath the MRCC on the Sheung Wan harbour-front. 'The study team queries whether this is the best system for the co-ordination of search and rescue operations,' the report said. 'The team feels that there is scope for confusion to arise as to who has responsibility for an incident.' The report referred to a case in 1993, near Hong Kong's eastern boundary. 'There appears to have been some confusion as to whether the MRCC or the Marine Regional Command and Control Centre was co-ordinating the operation.' This year there have been 21 rescue operations involving the Marine Police. Last year there were 63. Marine Police Senior Superintendent Peter Cummings said the recommendations were being considered. 'It is something which was half suggested by the Marine Police and is under discussion at the present time. It will still mean that we are involved,' he said. However, the report said setting up a central command could have drawbacks and further study was needed. It recommended the trimming of the Marine Police fleet due to under-utilisation, cutting the number of launches by two, but increasing its manpower by 290 from 2,638. There were also recommendations for a modified shift system for launches, a rationalisation of manpower on the islands district, and more technology on board vessels. The report was critical over overtime allowances, which rose from $34.5 million in 1990 to $48.7 million in 1992. 'The study team recommends that the Marine Police should place greater emphasis on management of resources and value for money,' it said.