WHEN the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has doubts about one of its officers, it does not hesitate to act - however unpalatable the consequences. That was evident in the sudden sacking of the former Deputy Director of Operations, Alex Tsui Ka-kit, two years ago. It was a decision the Legislative Council ultimately endorsed, but which threw the anti-graft body into more than a year of turmoil. The same cannot be assumed of the police. Over the past five years, no officer of superintendent rank or above has been disciplined in any way. Perhaps that simply reflects the high calibre of Commissioner Eddie Hui Ki-on's top commanders. But it is not what the Expatriate Inspectors' Association believe, as made evident by its allegations about senior level commanders 'of doubtful integrity'. Such claims are disturbing. It will be even more disturbing if there is any lack of interest in investigating them. In recent months, Asia's finest have been beset by controversy: from the photographs of 60 semi-naked officers found in the possession of a wealthy homosexual to the death of a suspect in suspicious circumstances. ICAC Commissioner Bertrand de Speville has warned of the re-emergence of methods of police corruption reminiscent of the 1970s. Everyone agrees that bad apples exist within the force. Police chiefs blame the failure to root them out on red tape, with Assistant Commissioner Pedro Ching Kwok-hoo saying dismissal procedures must be simplified. Such changes would be welcome. The present situation cannot be justified, with higher ranks subject to different disciplinary procedures. But it is difficult to believe this alone explains the lack of any disciplining of senior officers in recent years. According to the Expatriate Inspectors' Association, sufficiently tough regulations already exist to act against rogue elements at all levels within the police. If this is so, there seems to be a lack of willingness to use them. That can only be deeply damaging to the image of the whole force, and arouse fresh fears of a surge in corruption in the run-up to 1997. Mr Hui should take a tip from the ICAC's handling of Mr Tsui. If he has doubts about any of his commanders, they must be summoned and asked to account for their actions or quit. Only in this way can public confidence in the police be maintained.