A police association has sought to clarify that the force has "absolutely not" apologised to the public over its handling of attacks on MTR passengers in Yuen Long on July 21.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said last Friday that the force's response to the mob violence that put dozens in hospital had "fallen short of people’s expectations".
But his comment outraged many police officers, even though the force has admitted that more than half an hour passed before officers were sent into Yuen Long MTR Station to look for the attackers.
The chairman of the Police Superintendents’ Association, Chan Man-tak, said on Tuesday that while Cheung is entitled to state his views, he cannot represent the police force.
"Of course, the chief secretary as the number two man in the Hong Kong government, he has the authority to say anything or to express his view about the work of the police force," Chan said.
"[But from] the news headlines, it seemed that the CS was representing the police in giving an apology. That may have made our police officers unhappy with what he said in the news conference," Chan added.
The association chairman was speaking to reporters following a meeting with Cheung and representatives of three other police officer groups.
Chan said they were happy with Cheung's explanation, and the number two government official had also reiterated his backing for the police, adding that the government and the force are united.
In a statement, Cheung said he fully supported and affirmed the work of the police and despite the pressure they are facing, officers are committed to maintaining law and order and protecting lives and property.
In addition to the delay in responding to calls for help over the vicious attacks on July 21, the force has faced allegations that it colluded with triad members suspected of carrying out the beatings.
Around a dozen arrests were later made in relation to the violence, although no charges have been announced.