Police chief Raymond Siu said the force conducts strict evaluations before approving applications for demonstrations, and vowed it will continue to play the role of gatekeeper well.
In an interview with the Ta Kung Pao newspaper published on Thursday, Siu said some people had recently tried to incite others to "protest" through "soft confrontation", adding that his officers would take decisive law enforcement action.
He told the paper: "Society is calm now, but there are still hidden dangers.”
Siu said the force used to approve nearly all applications for gatherings, but this changed when demonstrations were hijacked by violent protesters in 2019.
The Commissioner of Police said his officers now carefully analyse intelligence and consider whether anyone intends to hijack a gathering – endangering national security or the safety of society – before approving an application.
As for limits on the number of participants or other restrictions on future demonstrations, Siu said the force will evaluate each application on a case-by-case basis.
The police chief also said the relationship between the force and the public has improved significantly after great effort. He said the police have been tackling fake news and misinformation, and educating the public about how they operate.
The Police Public Relations Branch, he said, has been upgraded to the Public Relations Wing to improve communication with the public, while a 24/7 fact-checking and clarification centre had been set up to monitor the media and online information. He stressed that if errors are found, officers will issue a clarification within two hours.
Siu also emphasised the need to work with young people, adding that officers regularly meet with school principals and parent-teacher associations across Hong Kong to communicate and promote crime prevention awareness among the young.