The ICAC called for tougher anti-corruption measures within government departments after a surge in the number of civil servants it has recommended for disciplinary action. Figures released by the anti-graft agency yesterday showed a 61 per cent jump, with 300 civil servants it wanted to see punished this year compared with 186 last year. A total of 183 civil servants have been disciplined this year, but this includes people recommended for punishment by the agency in previous years. Police topped the ICAC-recommended list with 101 officers put forward for disciplinary action, up from 74 last year. The Housing Department followed with 78 staff, up from 47 in 1998. Chairmen of four advisory committees to the ICAC raised concerns about awareness of corruption within the Government after releasing a study of 55 court cases involving officials last year. The agency singled out two areas - conflict of interest and indebtedness - where guidelines could be improved. Cheng Yan-kee, chairman of the Corruption Prevention Advisory Committee, urged a review of government department guidelines. 'We have met 21 department heads and senior officials to give them our study so they can use it as a reference to adopt anti-corruption measures within their departments,' he said. Anna Wu Hung-yuk, who heads the Operations Review Committee, said: 'There is a lack of alertness among civil servants towards the acceptance of advantages, making them easily fall into traps of bribe-payers and resulting in subsequent misconduct or corrupt behaviour.' The Independent Commission Against Corruption is currently handling 1,524 cases, the highest in its history. But the total number of corruption reports dropped one per cent from 3,279 last year to 3,239 this year. Of these, 452 were against the police, compared with 516 last year. The construction industry made up nine per cent of the total number of ICAC cases with 22 people charged this year. Ms Wu identified six areas of concern after a breakdown of the 55 court cases. They included five common problems; a lack of alertness about accepting advantages (nine people), abuse of public office (six), perverting the course of justice (18), heavy indebtedness and accepting unauthorised loans (12), and making false overtime claims (nine). The Civil Service Bureau played down the figures, saying the service was 'clean and honest'. However, it was opaque about where it would revise guidelines. 'We welcome the ICAC 1998 report on corruption and malpractice . . . and will continue to work closely with it to tackle the problem areas,' a spokesman said. The Housing Authority said a review would be concluded soon which would re-examine the sub-contracting system, on-site monitoring and consider higher penalties for offenders. A police spokesman said the force was constantly revising and upgrading anti-graft measures.