POLICE officers on patrol are to be equipped with palm-top computers in a plan to boost efficiency, it was disclosed yesterday. Deputy Commissioner of Police Tsang Yam-pui said the force had been upgrading its equipment to live up to the reputation of being 'Asia's Finest'. Mr Tsang said police had employed consultants and worked with three local universities to study future computer strategy and computerised communications systems. One plan is to equip patrolling officers with palm-top computers that will help them handle reports from the public and allow data to be processed and checked at the scene. 'We have been cultivating a 'service-oriented' culture within the force in the past two years, with the aim of further upgrading the quality of service,' Mr Tsang said. In the next three years, $800 million would be spent to improve police stations, following the success of a trial in the North Point station in the past year, he said. Under the pilot project, the station's equipment had been upgraded and reporting procedures simplified. Mr Tsang was speaking at the opening of the Police Recruitment Day at the Police Training School in Wang Chuk Hang, where visitors were shown different aspects of police work. The force has received a record 12,027 applications for 1,230 constable posts in the current financial year - a 61.4 per cent increase on last year. Another 2,555 applications have been received for 162 inspector positions, up 13 per cent from the same period a year ago. About 86 per cent of constable-rank vacancies and 65 per cent of the inspector posts this year have been filled. Mr Tsang said police were still discussing with the Civil Service Bureau a proposal to upgrade the direct entry requirement of probationary inspectors from Form Five to university degree holders. About 90 per cent of inspectors recruited this year were degree holders. The minimum education requirement for constables was upgraded from Form Three to Form Five last year.