POLICE and medical services launched their biggest ever crowd control operation in Hong Kong last night, with the largest number of New Year's Eve revellers in Tsim Sha Tsui. At the Star Ferry terminal in Kowloon police were unable to estimate how many people had gathered but said plans were in place to cope with the size of the crowd choosing the area to see in the New Year. Some people chose to dress up in costumes to greet 1994. The Mad Hatter and other fictional characters were seen strolling down Nathan Road. Police admitted they had been surprised by the huge turnout in Tsim Sha Tsui and Hunghom at Christmas. They had to increase the number of officers on duty from a planned 650 to 850 between 7 pm and 6 am. More police officers, medical and auxiliary aid services staff than ever before were on duty in an effort to cope with overcrowding and any of its consequences. Police were issued with loud hailers, and centralised monitoring posts were established to enable efficient liaison between officers. Hawkers were also targeted. Between December 22 and 27, 176 hawkers were arrested in Tsim Sha Tsui. People discharging spray streamers, which was a contributing factor in the Lan Kwai Fong crush, causing roads to become slippery, were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. A spokesman for the MTR said they relied on the expertise of an England-based crowd control consultant, Alan Marsden, who has been contracted to the service for more than 10 years. The biggest trouble spots were expected to be Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui stations. On Christmas Eve, 2.8 million people travelled on the MTR, 500,000 more than normal. A similar number was expected last night.