A woman explains the joss-money-protest tie-up.

Angry police officers had to be restrained by their colleagues on Wednesday night after staff at a shopping mall refused them entry to pursue a group of protesters.

People had been burning joss money printed with the faces of senior officials and police outside Tai Po police station – combining Hungry Ghost Festival traditions with political activism.

As with similar gatherings held in Sham Shui Po and Tin Shui Wai, the protesters appeared to be in a relatively festive mood.

When riot police appeared many of the protesters withdrew to the nearby Tai Po Mega Mall.

The police tried to follow them inside but mall staff refused them entry – despite being warned they may be committing obstruction.

Some officers became emotional and started screaming at the staff, and had to be taken aside and calmed down by colleagues.

Meanwhile in Tin Shui Wai, residents remonstrated with officers who had moved into Tin Shing Court following the Hungry Ghost protest outside the nearby police station.

They questioned whether the police needed to come into the residential area and why they were arresting people.