The incoming head of the auxiliary police is fighting to secure more work for part-time officers whose morale has been affected by reforms which are reducing the size of the force and its patrol duties. Deputy commandant Arthur Kwok Chi-shun, 54, who will replace retiring commandant Peter Chau Cham-chiu in January, said: 'More chances for officers to be on duty would have a positive impact on their standard and morale. I'm discussing with the senior management to arrange more duties for our officers.' He said extra support and administrative duties had been arranged for officers of inspectorate rank and above. Mr Kwok said he was trying to arrange increased duties for officers on rural or public housing estate patrols and anti-burglary operations. An average of 170 auxiliary officers have been on duty daily since the reforms came into effect in June last year, compared with 538 before the changes were introduced. The peak was in 1973 when 1,700 part-time officers were on duty each day. Mr Kwok said he did not know whether the reduction in beat patrol duties for auxiliary officers since the reforms had led to a rise in the crime rate as alleged by some officers, but said more officers would be a strong deterrent. Under the reforms, the 5,721 auxiliary officer posts will be reduced to 4,500 in three to five years through natural wastage and by switching the focus of the part-time force's role from beat patrols to crowd control and internal security. Mr Kwok admitted the number of applicants seeking to join the force dropped after the announcement of the reforms last year. There were more than 1,000 candidates in 1999-2000 and 132 recruits were picked for a new course starting next month. But in 1998-1999, there were 3,750 candidates vying for 300 places. He said the drop might be related to a misunderstanding about the reforms, which have been seen by the public as a step towards disbanding the force. 'The force will not be disbanded,' he said, adding that he had told the officers that the reforms would only affect their roles and numbers, and were needed as the regular force had sufficient manpower. While officers' morale had been affected by the reforms, Mr Kwok said the wastage rate remained stable with 285 officers leaving in the first nine months of this year, 300 last year and 335 in 1998. He said 90 per cent left as they had no time or had lost interest in the force. Mr Kwok said officers' morale had improved since the creation of a new internal committee comprising more than 70 officers to discuss ways to improve the reforms.