The new civil service minister has pledged to maintain vigilance over police integrity after an increase was recorded in the number of officers accused of having 'undesirable affiliations'. After a drop from 30 to four cases from 2003 to 2004, referrals of civil servants by the Independent Commission Against Corruption for possible disciplinary action surged to 32 last year. All but one of the 66 cases involved members of the police force. Secretary for the Civil Service Denise Yue Chung-yee admitted police officers were particularly vulnerable. 'We believe this has much to do with the nature of police work, which renders the officers particularly susceptible to accusations of association with undesirable elements,' she said in a written reply yesterday to unionist legislator Li Fung-ying. A Civil Service Bureau spokeswoman said the rise in reported cases last year was mainly due to one case involving 19 officers. The investigation is continuing. The government has so far completed investigations into 21 of the 66 cases. Only six officers were disciplined, while action was deemed unnecessary for the other 15 cases, the bureau said. Ms Yue said police management had adopted a zero tolerance policy towards staff who knowingly associated with criminals or people with doubtful reputations. The Civil Service Bureau would ensure clear guidelines were made available to all officers, she said. 'The overall ethical climate in the civil service has remained stable over the past few years,' Ms Yue said. She was referring to a steady drop in corruption reports involving civil servants, from 1,541 in 2003 to 1,286 in 2004 and 1,161 last year. Twenty-five officers were prosecuted last year, down from 38 in 2004 and 50 in 2003.