Senior counsel Martin Lee on Wednesday told the High Court that police have behaved "in a rotten way" by refusing to display their identification numbers while on duty as they dealt with anti-extradition protests that erupted a little more than a year ago.
He made his comments as the court began a hearing on the matter after combining several applications filed over the issue.
Lee, representing two of the applicants, told the court he thinks the force was "rotten" in an unprecedented fashion by not producing any documents explaining the change in the past practice of having officers show their unique ID.
Lee argued the force was failing the court by not abiding by its duty of candour.
He quoted the Secretary for Security, John Lee, as telling lawmakers in June last year that the uniforms' design meant there was no place for police to display their numbers.
Lee noted that even people wearing bikinis while taking part in beauty contests could wear a number.
Another senior counsel, Hectar Pun, said three of his clients were subject to "police brutality" in Admiralty, Sha Tin and Tsueng Kwan O respectively. But none of them could file a police complaint nor launch a private prosecution because they couldn't identify the officers involved.
He said the police's use of a call sign to replace the unique ID was not effective, saying news reports have caught several officers wearing exactly the same call sign cards.
The government’s lawyer, Victor Dawes, argued that none of the points raised by the applicants had to do with the legality of the police's policy on displaying officers' identity signs on uniforms.
The counsel said that legal challenge should be focusing on whether the policy complies the Bill of Rights' article on torture and inhuman treatment, and he argues it does.
The hearing is scheduled for two days.