THE independent inquiry into the witness protection system in Hongkong has been completed and findings will be released on Friday. Before completing his report, Mr Justice Kempster and the secretary to the Commission of Inquiry, Timothy Stephenson, went to see the witness protection system in Britain for 10 days. During their stay in Britain, they visited the Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester Police and the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Mr Stephenson described the British system, which provided life-long protection for witnesses, as extremely effective. ''They have never lost a witness in their care,'' he said. The British police also have a dedicated unit to protect witnesses. Mr Stephenson said the British Government considered it important to protect witnesses to uphold justice. Hongkong police only handle witnesses before and during trials, providing escort to courts and safe houses. The territory does not have set procedures for witness protection at the moment. Mr Stephenson said the protection system in Britain was very advanced and included changing the identity of witnesses and relocating them in Europe or a safe place in the UK. The British police also had a list of safe house available to them for accommodating witnesses. ''The trip to Britain is extremely useful since we can see the system for ourselves. It is a very complicated and expensive system to protect witnesses,'' Mr Stephenson said. Mr Justice Kempster and Mr Stephenson also met two witnesses in Britain who had some concerns about the system's operation. ''One of the witnesses is worried that once he is out of the prison, the police may not be able to change his identity for him. He is not convinced that the police can do so,'' Mr Stephenson said. Mr Justice Kempster was appointed to look into the acquittal of a Vietnamese man accused of murdering a fellow inmate at Whitehead Detention Centre because the key witness, Bui Van Xuan, refused to give evidence when police failed to offer him protection. He completed the first part of his inquiry in April which criticised police, the Correctional Services Department and the Legal Department for failing to provide adequate protection to the key witness in the trial. The second part of his report examines the inadequacy of the existing witness protection system and will recommend changes. The inquiry cost $7.6 million. Mr Justice Kempster, 70, started his pre-retirement leave yesterday and flew back to Britain, which means he will not be here to answer questions about his report when it is released this week.