Hong Kong’s police force is at the limits of its capacity as it struggles to contain the fallout from a political crisis now more than three months old.
This frank analysis was given by a very senior police officer in an off the record briefing to international journalists, including the BBC’s Stephen McDonell.
A month ago Hong Kong’s police were confident they had the situation in their city under control.
They had changed tactics, felt they had protesters on the run and said this meant there would be no need for Beijing’s intervention.
However now they are being pushed to the limit of what they can achieve with the resources they have.
The protest movement has shifted, bringing extreme challenges for those in charge.
Initially there were peaceful marches opposing a plan to allow for extradition to mainland Chinese courts.
Then came running street battles between riot police and black clad protesters demanding universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into allegations of police collusion with organised crime, something the police have consistently opposed.