Two-way permits for mainlanders will be eventually phased out, to be replaced by individual-visitor permits, Commissioner of Police Dick Lee Ming-kwai said yesterday. This was because applicants for visitor permits had to undergo a tighter screening process, the police chief said. Hong Kong police were working closely with the Guangdong department of public security on the issue. But he did not give a timeframe for the changes. Individual visiting visas require more documentation than two-way permits, and police simply have made fewer arrests of such holders than those on two-way permits, according to Mr Lee. 'In the long term, individual-visit permits are going to replace two-way permits, such as mainland business visas or relatives-visiting visas,' he said. 'Since July 2003, when the individual-visit permits started, there have been a few million individual visitors to Hong Kong. We found that the crime rate of individual travellers is really low. On the other hand, the crime rate for two-way permit [holders] is high.' Mr Lee said Hong Kong police had reached an agreement to notify mainland security officials if mainlanders committed offences. This information would be added to a profile, which would be considered when issuing visas. Mainlanders who broke the law would be banned from one to five years, depending on the seriousness of the crime. Police said many two-way visa holders were caught working illegally in Hong Kong as prostitutes or in construction. Some mainlanders with multiple-entry visas given to businesspeople had been arrested in shantytowns as illegal workers. They had sometimes obtained their travel documents by lying about being employed by mainland firms or saying they were coming to Hong Kong to attend exhibitions.