Hong Kong’s police department is seeking additional manpower as well as equipment, arguing that the force needs to prepare for future challenges in aspects such as crowd control, Ming Pao Daily reported.
As part of the government’s plan to add 2,540 civil servants to bring the total to 176,000 in the next fiscal year starting April, the police department intends to add 603 more to its force, the report said.
The number is more than that required by any of the other departments and the most since 1998, when it added 637 policemen, the paper noted.
After the addition, the police force will see its total strength rise to 34,000.
In terms of budgeted expenses for the 2015/16 fiscal year, the police department ranks the fifth in the government. Of the HK$16.8 billion (US$2.16 billion) expenses planned for next year, which represents an increase of 2.32 percent from a year earlier, a total of HK$27 million will be spent on three riot vehicles equipped with water cannons.
One of the major action plans will be to bring together policemen who have been trained for internal security, crowd management and anti-terrorism skills, according to the report.
Sources were quoted as saying that the police came to the realization that they were short-handed when they had to deal with the pro-democracy protests last year. The force has now decided to add two more Police Tactical Units (PTUs) to deal with possible incidents in the future, the report said. The addition will bring the total number of PTUs to nine.
Democratic Party lawmaker To Kun-sun, a member of Legco’s Panel on Security, said it is weird that the police department would want to increase its manpower, given the fact that the ratio of police-to-population is already quite high in the city, and as the crime rate has also been falling in recent years.
To wondered if the new police budget was made under pressure from Beijing, and if authorities are making some kind of preparation for legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law that deals with national security issues.
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