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HAVING the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the security of the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events (the Events), the Hong Kong Police Force has obviously been busy planning ahead for the Events. The Force has set up a two-tier planning structure: the Force Steering Committee to address strategic issues and to guide the overall planning process, and the Force Planning Group (FPG) to oversee and implement all operational planning/preparations and to form the nucleus command team during the execution phase of the Events.

Five working groups have been formed to support the FPG. They will be responsible for traffic, human resources, public relations, information and communications technology needs and all Events-related crime. The Police Force has also set up a Special Duty Team responsible for security planning. This comprises five Superintendents, three Chief Inspectors, three Senior Inspectors and two Sergeants. As there has been no previous event of this nature and scale in Hong Kong, there is no “blueprint” for success that can be followed.

Even the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s Sixth Ministerial Conference does not compare with the Olympic Events. Although planning for the WTO was detailed and meticulous, it was essentially a public order issue which lasted for a relatively short period, whereas the Olympics and Paralympics incorporate additional security issues, as well as the fact that the “policing period” will last for two months. There are many different stakeholders involved in the different venues and planning aspects for the Events, and there are many new challenges that the Police Force have addressed and worked through. The challenges will continue right up to the conclusion of the Events.

The Police Force is also working closely with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad Security Department as well as other non-Government stakeholders, like the Equestrian Events (Hong Kong) of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad Company Limited and the Hong Kong Jockey Club and with international partners through Home Affairs Bureau, such as the International Olympic Committee and the Fédération Equestre Internationale.

The Fire Services Department (FSD) has an important role in ensuring public safety during the Events. The department has been busy drawing up contingency plans to deal with any outbreak of fire or other mishaps in both competition and non-competition venues.

To this end, FSD will provide fire-fighting, rescue and emergency ambulance services; arrange rescue craft to be on standby near Shing Mun River to carry out water rescues if required; advise on the fire safety designs, installations and measures of venues; and assist Hong Kong Jockey Club staff and Event Treating Veterinarians in the event of any accident involving horses.

FSD was invited to sit on the Steering Committee on Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events in late 2005. Two directorate officers in the department were also invited to sit on the Co-ordination Committees on Quarantine and Medical Services and Security and Accreditation. One of the directorate officers was appointed as the Departmental Contingency Officer responsible for the overall monitoring of the operational readiness of the Events.

In early April 2007, two senior FSD officers were deployed to work for the Events. They are responsible for contingency and resources planning as well as liaison and co-ordination work. These officers’ first mission was to prepare for the Good Luck Beijing – Hong Kong Special Administrative Region 10th Anniversary Cup held in August 2007, which was a test event of the Events.

Two additional FSD inspectorate officers were deployed in February 2008 to prepare and vet the emergency contingency plans. At present, there are a total of four officers working in conjunction with all concerned operational units and the logistics and support sections of the department to ensure their operational readiness for the Events.

Given that FSD has no previous experience in preparing emergency services for the Olympic events, a lot of time has to be spent on research work to learn from past experiences.