Police associations are calling for a law to ban profane language against police officers after two incidents of abuse in recent demonstrations. Protests in the city have a tradition of relative civility, involving slogans without inflammatory terms. But in at least two recent protests a banner was seen that included the English-language slogan 'F*** the police'. Two of the four major police officers' associations said such insults against officers should be prohibited. Police Inspectors Association chairman Benjamin Tsang Chiu-fo called for a law to uphold 'dignified law enforcement for the police'. 'Being able to enforce the law in a dignified manner is important for police,' said Tsang, citing similar laws in France and Australia. 'The law has protected officers against physical harm but there has always been a grey area where protection is missing,' Tsang said. 'The officers have always asked for this, but there was not enough support to put a law in place... citizens feel the police enjoy excessive powers.' The offending slogan was first seen on September 3, when hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets accusing police of abusing their powers and urging Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung to step down. The same banner was seen again during protests on September 18 organised by the Federation of Students against Vice-Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Hong Kong. Grievances among frontline officers had increased since the vice-premier's visit, Benjamin Tsang said. The policing during the visit triggered accusations that freedom of the press and speech had been suppressed. Gary Wong Ching, chairman of the Junior Police Officers' Association, supports a law against swearing at police and the disciplined services. But he conceded that legislating against this would be difficult. 'What amounts to an insult? It is difficult to define,' he said. 'Even decades ago, we were sworn at when carrying out our duties.' The chairman of the Legislative Council's security panel said such a law would be impractical. 'The dignity of the police should be built up by the high quality of the force and its impartial practices,' James To Kun-sun, of the Democratic Party, said. 'Where there is no law against verbal insults in general, one for the law enforcers would create a double standard.' Increasingly extreme protests made law enforcement difficult, he said, a trend for which he blamed the city's administration. 'Citizens have lower respect for the police since they feel the police's actions are more politicised,' said To. 'Frontline officers are the biggest victims.' Daisy Chan Sin-ying, secretary general of the Federation of Students, said the offending banner was not produced by her organisation. 'We will not swear in any format at police, even though we are against their abuse of power,' said Chan, a student at Chinese University. The chairman of the Superintendents Association, Philip Sham Wai-kin, said action must be taken to prevent such insults. 'We never want to see such insulting words directed at the police,' he said. 'But we need further discussion to decide on the next step to take.' The Overseas Inspectors' Association refused to comment. The Security Bureau could not give a reply last night, but said earlier that legislation against verbal insults was not in its purview, 'as it deals more with physical protection'.