SENIOR police undecided about staying in their jobs beyond 1997 look likely to be strongly lobbied by top government officials to avert the danger of rushed promotions. It is understood police are eager for the Civil Service Branch to take a more active role in persuading officers to stay. News of the proposal comes in the wake of the revelation that, in the worst position in July 1997 - and assuming the force's recent non-confidential manpower survey was accurate - nearly half of all officers at senior and chief superintendent rank will have resigned or retired. Another indication of the depth of police losses will come next month when the deadline expires for transferring of police pension schemes. This is seen as a key issue because, of the two schemes, one is seen to give officers greater flexibility in terms of leaving and keeping pension benefits. 'It really is up to the Government to take the lead on this issue,' said a police source. 'We have done all we can. Indeed, we acted responsibly . . . in initiating this exercise so we could determine what was going to happen. We are prepared for all outcomes but some support would be appreciated.' One of the force's proposals focuses on Civil Service Branch officials interviewing officers who have indicated their uncertainty. In the interviews, enhanced promotion prospects would be emphasised, as well as the improved chances of future swift elevation. But this would mean drawing up a short-list of undecided officers in the superintendent bracket who - in the eyes of force management - would be likely to be imminently promoted. Civil Service Branch Principal Assistant Secretary, Duncan Pescod, said the branch had a range of initiatives. Legislators at last week's security panel meeting criticised Commissioner Eddie Hui Ki-on and Secretary for Security Peter Lai Hing-ling for taking too optimistic a line on the survey - which showed only 6.9 per cent of the 2,493 officers above the rank of inspector departing. Mr Hui dismissed legislators' concerns, saying the force had a large pool of qualified officers to fill projected vacancies. Sources say the push for the Civil Service Branch to be involved in the manpower dilemma flows from their role in negotiations over compensation for officers in Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service. This comprises 280 of the force's 680 expatriate officers, most of whom are either leaving or are undecided. Senior Assistant Commissioner (Personnel and Training) Tony Mullins said last night the force was considering whether to conduct personal interviews with top officers. But he said officers contemplating their future in the force now had to decide on their individual positions. 'All officers are being encouraged to continue in the force as long as possible. 'Our continued efficiency depends very much on our ability to retain as many officers as possible,' he explained.