THE Aberdeen shootout, which left a gunman and his hostage dead and three police officers injured, has raised serious questions about police readiness to deal with such emergencies. Senior officers have admitted the force has no clear guidelines for hostage situations. Before any findings can be made, investigators will have to look at a number of complex questions, including why officers who ambushed the taxi did not know the gunman, Cheung Cho-yau, had taken crippled South Korean computer expert, Kang Sang-bo, as a hostage. But foremost in the investigations would be why the police did not wait until a hostage negotiating team arrived and why a lone officer approached the taxi when the gunman had not communicated what he was going to do. Yesterday, it emerged that when the officer, believed to be Constable Au Cheuk-yan, approached the left rear door, Cheung fired twice hitting the officer, who claimed to have returned fire five times. This led to a confusing sequence over a short period of time, during which at least three other officers went up to the taxi independently and fired a further eight rounds. Findings from the ongoing probe will go to police headquarters and may lead to a tactical review and changes in training, a senior officer said. 'Every single time the police open fire a report is submitted to police headquarters,' the officer said. 'And every time we look at what lessons could be learned from the report. Tactics are not static, and are forever being looked at and reviewed.' But Secretary for Security, Alistair Asprey, has flown in the face of international policing conventions by seeming to sanction the use of force to resolve hostage situations, by refusing to deny he supports shootouts over negotiations to resolve such crises. Mr Asprey said police had his full support 'without question' in their handling of Thursday's shootings and saw no need for more precise training in dealing with hostage situations. 'I am sure the police policy on hostage situations is quite correct,' he said. Mr Asprey refused to deny his absolute support of the police handling of Thursday's incident indicated a preference for fire-fights over mediation in defusing such situations. 'I'm not being drawn into that sort of question,' he said. He denied the high rate of deaths and injuries to civilians in police shootouts - more than five deaths and 25 injuries in five years - indicated a need for a review of guidelines covering use of firearms. Asked whether the deaths and injuries suffered were acceptable to his administration and, if not, when the guidelines would be reviewed, he said: 'No incident involving innocent bystanders being shot and killed or injured is acceptable but I do not think it makes the conclusion [that guidelines could be flawed].' Mr Asprey's comments were contradicted by senior officers who revealed the policy on hostage situations which he said he supported in full did not even exist. Police spokesman Peter Randall said the force had no specific training or guidelines for such emergencies. 'The safety of the hostage is of paramount importance,' he said. 'There are no hard and fast rulings because it depends on the situation at the time. 'The golden rule is never draw your gun if you put any member of the public in danger. However, if you yourself are in danger then you are entitled to fire your weapon to defend yourself.' The police unit specifically trained to deal with hostage situations in Hong Kong, the Special Duties Unit, is based at Fanling and, according to one police source, will take at least 90 minutes after being alerted to reach Hong Kong Island. 'They're the ideal people for things like this but by the time they've been paged and got to the scene it is probably too late,' the source said. Firearms training for new police recruits was significantly upgraded in March this year with the introduction of the advanced tactical weapons course, previously only available to specialist units. But a police source said it was 'really just officer survival stuff, very basic'. However, a senior police officer said it was well known that regardless of training, gunfire encourages others to start shooting. 'Once somebody starts firing, everybody starts firing,' he said. 'It's documented all over the world in tactical books.'