Employees of state-owned enterprises who accept or offer bribes of less than 50,000 yuan will no longer face arrest and prosecution in Shenyang, Liaoning province. New regulations say employees of state firms who are found to be involved in bribery and corruption cases involving less than 50,000 yuan should be given an opportunity to 'atone' for their crimes, instead of being prosecuted. 'They will be given an opportunity to redeem themselves by getting involved in reform work and other kinds of projects that can stimulate the growth of the enterprise in which they work and the economy overall,' said Wei Yuan, spokesman for the city's prosecutor. Under the new regulations, police are also not permitted to wear uniforms or use their sirens when conducting initial investigations at state-owned enterprises. 'This sort of behaviour can be very damaging to the reputation of a company or enterprise,' Mr Wei said. 'Because when people see police and hear sirens they immediately assume there has been wrongdoing and this is by no means always the case.' Officials carrying out spot checks at factories must also minimise their negative impact by maintaining a low profile. The regulations, the first of their kind in the province, were introduced following a recent case involving a local official. The man, at the time the head of a local road construction project, was detained and questioned on suspicion of accepting bribes in return for contracts. However, he was released on bail and allowed to continue working on the project, introducing various cost-saving measures which resulted in a 10 per cent saving on the total cost of the project. The case is still being investigated and no decision has yet been taken on whether to prosecute him. 'From now on each case will be judged individually, paying attention to the motive for the crime and its outcome,' Mr Wei said. 'When we feel it is necessary it will be possible to discipline those involved in minor crimes through public criticism or even dismissal, but they will not be prosecuted.' The new regulations only apply to employees of state-owned enterprises, although Mr Wei said he hoped similar rules would be introduced for private firms. Criminal law expert Wang Shunan warned that the rules, if 'not implemented properly ... could lead to an increase in the crimes of bribery and corruption'. But he said he still supported the rules because they differentiate between serious and petty crimes. 'The rules will not encourage criminality,' Mr Wei insisted. 'Quite the opposite, they will encourage people to take responsibility for their mistakes.'