Hong Kong police force to get first female deputy chief after 173 years

Hong Kong police blocking a street as pro-democracy protesters march through the streets, on July 1, 1997.
Hong Kong police blocking a street as pro-democracy protesters march through the streets, on July 1, 1997.PHOTO: EPA

HONG KONG - Hong Kong's police force will get its first woman deputy chief in its 173-year history, in a reshuffle which will see a record four women holding positions in the highest ranks.

Senior assistant commissioner Winnie Chiu will be promoted as one of two deputy commissioners from Saturday, the South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday (July 5).

Chiu, 54, now in charge of personnel and training, will replace the outgoing deputy commissioner in charge of management, Alfred Chau, who retires on Friday.

Chiu joined as an inspector in 1983, was prompted to assistant commissioner in 2011 and became the first woman senior assistant police chief in 2014.

The police force said: "Chiu has served in a wide spectrum of posts encompassing criminal intelligence, narcotics, international liaison, training, divisional, district and regional command as well as operation policy and support at headquarter level."

Chiu's appointment was welcomed by the Junior Police Officers' Association.

"As she has been director of management services and director of personnel training, she will continue to maintain good communication, cooperation and relationship with frontline officers," the association's spokesman said. Chiu was also praised for her efforts in trying to improve welfare and working conditions for officers, the Post reported.

Chief Superintendent Irene Ho is also expected to be promoted to assistant commissioner in September - which means women will occupy four slots in the 21-strong top management team. The Post has learned that Ho, of the crime wing, is likely to replace assistant commissioner Duncan McCosh who will retire.

The other two women assistant commissioner are Edwina Lau, who heads the Hong Kong Police College, and assistant police chief Rebecca Lam, regional commander of marine police.

In 1995, there was only one female officer at the top level - Felicia Wong was the first woman to attain the rank of assistant commissioner.

However, police force insiders said Chiu is unlikely to become the next police chief, noting that the senior assistant commissioner in charge of operations, Chris Tang, has been tipped to succeed commissioner Stephen Lo, the Post reported.

In another first, a female officer will protect the first woman Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, in the role of aide-de-camp, the Post was told on Tuesday.

The Post understands that Superintendent Ada Chan will soon replace Superintendent Chris Lau in the Chief Executive's Office, taking charge of Lam's VIP protection unit. Chan headed the 999 Emergency Call Centre in Kowloon.