Strong opposition from residents on Lamma Island has forced police chiefs to back down over staffing cuts locals say would have left them easy prey for criminals. The U-turn, sparked by crime fears among Sok Kwu Wan villagers, came just two days after the launch of the trial cuts. Worried residents claimed the changes were imposed without consultation and left them open to burglaries by illegal immigrants 16 hours a day. The trial would have re-posted a sergeant and six constables back to Marine Police duties. They joined the land force several months ago. Yesterday, islanders were briefed by senior police on the details of the scheme and voiced overwhelming opposition to the plan. They have now been promised that 24-hour cover will be provided by two Marine Police officers who will come ashore to carry out foot patrols when an existing police post is unmanned. Before the trial scheme, 30 officers gave round-the-clock coverage from two police posts in Sok Kwu Wan and Yung Shue Wan. Under the new scheme, no officers would have been stationed in Sok Kwu Wan around the clock and its police post would have been operated by just two officers between 3pm and 11pm. Hundreds of islanders live in eight villages around Sok Kwu Wan. The Yung Shue Wan post will remain a 24-hour operation. Chow Yuk-tong, chairman of South Lamma Rural Committee, said residents strongly opposed the move and accused police of implementing the scheme without consultation. 'Due to recent burglaries and arrests of mainland illegal immigrants, we demanded more officers to patrol Sok Kwu Wan. They did not take account of our concerns and cut the number,' he said. 'We are very concerned that the move will attract criminals once they are aware we are not protected by police for 16 hours a day.' Police figures show there were 11 reported crimes in the area in 1998 and seven last year.