A police monitor group said on Wednesday that the force must be "embarrassed" that one of its top national security officers has reportedly been caught up in a raid on an unlicensed massage parlour.
Sources told RTHK that senior assistant commissioner Frederic Choi – who is director of national security – has been placed on leave pending an investigation.
"This is embarrassing news for the police force given they are trying to regain public trust and improve their image," said Icarus Wong from Civil Rights Observer.
But Wong stopped short of commenting further, saying only that he would like to see whether the police handle Choi's case properly and impartially.
Later in the day, Police Commissioner Chris Tang said the force was highly concerned about the conduct of officers, and its organised crime and triad bureau was looking into the alleged incident.
Tang added that the matter would not affect the operations of the national security department.
"Of course this incident will have an effect on the overall situation of the police force, but I think the work of the national security department will not be affected by an investigation into an allegation against an individual officer, because we are a team and we work as a team," he said.
New People's Party lawmaker Regina Ip, a former security secretary, said it was an appropriate move to put Choi on leave and said the police had been transparent regarding the case.
Asked if Choi should step down, Ip said people should not jump to conclusions and it is a common law principle that people are innocent until proven guilty.
"I think this incident fully illustrates that every person is equal before the law, irrespective of whether this person is a police officer or a member of the police national security team," she told reporters at Legco.
"I am confident that the police will take action in accordance with established criminal and disciplinary procedures. I think the fact the police will act impartially in this case will reinforce confidence in the public service."
Choi moved to the national security unit on its formation last year, having first joined the force as an inspector in 1995.
Last updated: 2021-05-12 HKT 17:54