Cash to boost police numbers

Local | Charlotte Luo 27 Feb 2020

The police force is expected to hire 2,543 more cops in the coming fiscal year while its fund estimation will be increased to HK$25.79 billion, up 25 percent from the previous year.

Around HK$12.36 billion will be allocated for "maintenance of law and order in the community," HK$5.29 billion for "prevention and detection of crime," HK$5.64 billion for "operations," and HK$2.49 billion for road safety, says an expenditure paper.

The police plan to increase staff by 2,543 by next March. The new recruits will bring the total number at the force to 38,406 from 35,863.

About 44.5 percent of the new recruits, or 1,132, will be assigned to "maintenance of law and order in the community."

A total of 966 posts are created for "operations" with a provision of HK$855 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year, or 17.9 percent more than the revised estimate for 2019-2020.

The paper also showed that the police spent 15 percent more than originally planned on maintaining law and order in the previous year.

The estimate of the amount required for the salaries and expenses of the force is HK$25.8 billion - an increase of HK$220 million over the revised estimate for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The new fund for specialist supplies and equipment, including weapons, ammunition, shields, and protective gear for police officers, is HK$612 million. Among that, replacement of six armored vehicles will cost about HK$77 million.

Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said the police force is the "winner" this year, and it is unreasonable that the force can increase its personnel by more than 2,500, accounting for 40 percent of a total increase in civil servants.

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu questioned why the government has increased the funding for police armored vehicles but reduced the funding for the Independent Police Complaints Council by 4 percent.

"Is it unwilling to provide more resources to the IPCC to ensure police do not abuse their powers?" he asked.

"Does it think the police force is not violent enough?"

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan said that the proposed HK$25.79 billion accounts for 43.39 percent of funding for nine disciplined services.

"It's not whether to give out the funding. But it has to be worthy. People are concerned if the police force's performance over the past year is worth it," Chan wrote on her Facebook page.

Council Front lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said she is disgusted by the proposed HK$25.79 billion budget for police as it is rewarding officers for their "obedience" amid the anti-government protests.

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