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CSD staff demand 700 more officers

CORRECTIONAL Services Department (CSD) staff have demanded more than 700 new officers, saying they need them to cover shortages and remove Vietnamese boat people from detention centres.

The CSD Officers' Association has written to the Legislative Council security panel asking it to press for a review of the 'defensive equipment' officers can use in operations involving the Vietnamese.

More than 200 CSD staff and police officers were injured in two operations to remove boat people from the High Island and Whitehead detention centres last month.

Detainees threw burning charcoal cookers, boiling water and homemade spears at disciplined services officers who said they were forced to retaliate with tear-gas to quell opposition.

Association spokesman Fung Kin-hung said the equipment which should be replaced included riot shields and helmets.

'We believe there is a requirement for 282 officers to make up a leave reserve and for 428 to be part of a training reserve,' Mr Fung said.

'We will continue operations involving Vietnamese boat people as required and will not shirk our duty as part of the disciplined services. We just want to ensure our interests are looked after.' He said low staffing levels were preventing officers taking days off.

'Weekend operations in the Vietnamese detention centres means officers have to work on their days off,' Mr Fung said.

'We have asked Selina Chow [Liang Shuk-yee], as chairman of the security panel, to make clear our concerns and especially to push for extra officers,' he said.