A vice-chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) has defended officers who fail to display identification numbers on their uniforms, saying that would restrict their ability to perform their duties effectively.
Speaking on an RTHK radio programme on Thursday, Christopher Cheung said with the absence of ID numbers, officers can carry out their duties without fear of retribution, such as doxxing – where officers’ personal details are publicised on the internet.
He also said it wasn't fair for the police to have to face many restrictions when dealing with "rioters".
“Special tactical squad, they handle more serious [situations]. You know officer’s family members, their sons and daughters can get doxxed online anytime, and they may even feel some kind of pressure at school right?" he said.
"I think if you want the special tactical squad to display everything it’s just not fair. Because they need to enforce the law, they need to feel no worries,” the IPCC official said.
Cheung said displaying ID numbers is not needed if people want to complain about an officer. They can describe their actions and the location of the event and file a compliant with the department's Complaint against Police office (Capo), he said.
He also questioned the need for an ID on officers who are handling "urgent situations".
"Their work in handling riots have a big impact in bringing back peace. Why do I need to tell people who I am or what I’m doing, to allow you to make a complaint against my behaviour, on whether it’s reasonable or unreasonable?", he asked.
He did not respond directly to a question on whether this would undermine people's right to monitor police actions.
But another speaker on the same programme, former IPCC member and pro-democracy lawmaker Kenneth Leung, disagreed with Cheung's comments.
“They are dealing with the people of Hong Kong, people who come to the streets to protest,” Leung noted.
“Now of course, they have a special responsibility – as I understand it – is to arrest the protesters if they commit a crime. I do not think that it’s justified to say that because they have a special duty then they should be protected in such a way that they need not display their numbers,” he said.
Talking after the show, Leung said he believes more politically neutral members should be appointed to help deal with the heavy workload as the IPCC is conducting a fact finding study into the recent protests.
He told RTHK's Janice Wong that members with strong views on the anti-extradition protests should consider whether should steer clear of cases that are directly related to the movement.
Democratic Party lawmaker, Lam Cheuk-ting, said it is “unacceptable and ridiculous” for an IPCC official to defend officers who fail to display identification when they are on-duty.
“If the general public could not identify any police officers who have used excessive force against civilians or protesters, then it will be a serious loophole for the police officers that may lead them to abuse their power and without any consequences,” he said.
Last updated: 2019-08-22 HKT 15:53