Legislators yesterday said the police force was failing to retain enough officers in the run-up to the handover. Officials said that in the worst-case scenario, 173 expatriate police officers, including six assistant commissioners, 11 chief superintendents and 22 senior superintendents, could leave by July 1. Democrat Cheung Man-kwong asked why the Government did not persuade these senior officers to stay. 'It is meaningless to just ask them whether they will stay or not,' Mr Cheung told the Legislative Council's security panel. 'The Government should do something positive, urging them to stay. 'I support the policy of localisation, but the expatriate officers are leaving too quickly and too abruptly. 'I am worried we are in danger of having insufficient police officers to maintain law and order during the time of transition.' Mr Cheung also asked whether there would be enough experienced new staff to fill the vacancies. Police director of personnel and training, Anthony Mullins, claimed there would be enough experienced staff. He said the police planned 10 years ago to nurture local officers for promotion. Newly promoted staff would not be underqualified, he said. 'Promotion will only be made according to one's potential and merits. We won't promote an inappropriate officer to the post in any circumstance,' he said. Independent legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing urged the Government to explain how it would prevent newly promoted officers from leaving within a year of their promotion. Three senior police officers had already done so, she said. Secretary for Civil Service Lam Woon-kwong said the civil servant promotion board was told candidates should declare their intentions. Candidates should show clearly whether they would stay with the Government for at least a year, otherwise they would not be promoted, he said.