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Overall law and order situation stable in 2016

The overall law and order situation in Hong Kong remained stable and was considered stable in 2016 with a decrease of 8.7 per cent in the overall crime over 2015, according to the Commissioner of Police, Mr Lo Wai-chung.

Speaking at a press conference today (January 24) to review the crime situation in Hong Kong last year, Mr Lo said the overall crime figures dropped to 60,646 cases, a decrease of 5,793 cases or 8.7 per cent when compared with 2015. The overall crime figure fell to a new low after 1978. The crime rate measuring by number of crimes per 100,000 population stood at 825 cases, representing a new low in 44 years.

A total of 10,103 cases of violent crime were recorded last year, being a drop of about 7.2 per cent and marked a new low after 1971. Crimes with the number of cases down included blackmail (down 27.2 per cent), deception (down 22.4 per cent), miscellaneous thefts (down 10.6 per cent), serious drug offences (down 9.5 per cent) and wounding and serious assault (down 6.3 per cent).

Crimes with the number of cases on the rise included homicide (up 27.3 per cent) and robbery (up 16.6 per cent). Crimes registered with slight increase include arson (up 5.6 per cent), rape (up 1.4 per cent) and shop theft (up 0.7 per cent).

There were 28 homicide cases in 2016, up six cases from 2015. Most of the cases were triggered by financial problems, relationship problems, grudges among neighbours and disputes that arising from various reasons. All cases were detected.

For robbery, there were 260 cases in 2016, an increase of 37 cases over 2015. The rise was mainly attributed to the rising number of street robberies and cases committed at convenience stores. No case involved the use of genuine firearm. Over half of the cases were street robberies and amongst them 60 per cent involved no weapon. Property robbed mainly included cash and mobile phones. One hundred and ninety-eight persons were arrested for robbery in 2016, an increase of 26 persons when compared with 2015.

There were 358 arson cases in 2016, a rise of 19 cases when compared with 2015. The rise was mainly due to an increase of cases caused by various disputes and domestic violence-related cases.

In 2016, there were 71 rape cases, an increase of one case over 2015. Sixty-seven cases were detected. Three cases involved strangers, of which two were detected. Cases involving victims aged under 16 decreased from 20 to nine cases.

As regards cases on the decrease, there were 7,260 deception cases in 2016, being a drop of 2,093 cases or 22.4 per cent when compared with 2015.

For telephone deception, there were 1,138 cases in 2016, a notable year-on-year decrease of 1,742 cases or 60.5 per cent. The pecuniary loss dropped by some HK$96 million to $220 million when compared with 2015. “Pretend Officials” remained the major modus operandi.

It was noted that around half of the victims of the “Pretend Officials” cases were recent immigrants from the Mainland or new arrivals pursuing their study or career in Hong Kong. Police enhanced deception prevention publicity with relevant departments and organisations, through social media platforms and at various border control points.

Mr Lo pointed out that telephone deception was a cross-boundary syndicated crime. To combat the crime effectively, Police will maintain close liaison with the Mainland and overseas law enforcement agencies and launch proactive joint operations.

“With the ever-changing tactics of the fraudsters, the best strategy is prevention. We will continue to release crime prevention messages through different channels and media,” he said.

There were 114 “Romance Scams” in 2016, an increase of 52 cases or 84 per cent, and the pecuniary loss increased by two-fold to HK$95 million. Police mounted a joint operation with the Malaysian police and the law enforcement agencies of Nigeria in December 2016 and cracked down a “Romance Scams” syndicate based in Malaysia which targeted Hong Kong victims. Related scam reports saw a drop since the operation.

In 2016, there were 994 reported cases of blackmail, a drop of 372 cases when compared with 2015 (down 27.2 per cent). Seventy per cent or 697 cases were "Naked Chat". The pecuniary loss decreased by 31.4 per cent to around HK$2.4 million. There were 63 blackmail cases associated with “Ransomware” and six of them incurred a total loss of some HK$73,000.

There were 2,428 burglary cases in 2016, being a decrease of 151 cases (5.9 per cent), a new low after 1969. Burglaries at domestic premises involving losses of HK$500,000 or above, however, saw an increase. Fifty-four such cases were recorded, up by around 70 per cent or 23 cases when compared with 2015.

“Apart from stepping up patrol, maintaining close liaison with security companies and providing security advice, Police will proactively launch intelligence-led operations and enhance law enforcement efforts to fight against various kinds of burglaries, particularly cases involving significant pecuniary loss,” Mr Lo said.

Police recorded 25,628 theft cases in 2016, being a year-on-year drop of 1,884 cases or 6.8 per cent. There were 9,792 cases of shop theft, a slight increase of 70 cases. Other major theft cases were registered with decline and no trace of syndicated crime was seen.

For wounding and serious assault, there were 5,024 cases (down 336 cases) in 2016 and 432 of them were triad-related (down 3.1 per cent).

There were 1,712 cases of serious drug offences in 2016, representing a drop of 179 cases. In terms of seizure amount, cocaine, cannabis, heroin and “ice” were recorded with a significant increase, which was mainly driven by the detection of a number of large-scale drug trafficking cases in 2016.

In 2016, 2,510 people were arrested for serious drug offences (down 1.1 per cent). Among those arrested were 325 youths (down 18.5 per cent). Police will continue to proactively deter the exploitation of youths in drug trafficking and join the Mainland and overseas areas in combating drug offences.

Turning to indecent assault, 1,019 cases were recorded in 2016, a decrease of 4.6 per cent over 2015. Cases taken place on public transport and related places slightly increased by four to 242 cases.

There were 1,734 cases of criminal intimidation (down 0.1 per cent) and 1,872 cases of triad-related crime cases (up 60 cases) in 2016.

In 2016, there were 1,509 criminal cases of domestic violence (up 3.1 per cent); 495 domestic violence miscellaneous cases (down 9.7 per cent) and 11,306 cases of domestic incidents where violence was not involved (down 3.6 per cent).

A total of 33,242 persons were arrested for criminal offences (down 1.6 per cent) in 2016. The number of youths arrested for criminal offences dropped further to 3,366 (down 18.6 per cent).

Among these arrested persons, 4,703 people were NECs (14.1 per cent), being a rise of 227 persons. The proportion of residents to non-residents was about half to half. Offences mainly involved shop theft, miscellaneous thefts, wounding/serious assault and serious drug offences.

There was increase in various types of offences that NEC Form 8 holders committed last year and 1,506 persons were arrested, an increase of 393 persons (up 35.3 per cent) when compared with 2015. Police, together with relevant departments and Border Control Bureau in the Mainland conducted a series of operation to combat smuggling of illegal immigrants and curb from the source the threats posed by the NEC illegal immigrants to law and order of Hong Kong. Police will keep watch on the NEC-related crime trend and take corresponding law enforcement actions.

“Majority of the NECs in Hong Kong are law-abiding. Police will continue to encourage police districts to enhance communication with the respective NEC community to prevent and fight crime together,” Mr Lo stressed.

The Commissioner also took the opportunity to introduce the Commissioner’s Operational Priorities 2017, which include:

Violent Crime;
Triads, Syndicated and Organised Crime;
Dangerous Drugs;
Quick Cash Crime;
Cyber Security and Technology Crime; Public Safety; and
Terrorism.

In 2017, Police will ensure strong presence to deter violent crime, particularly cases involving firearms or explosive devices. Intelligence-led operations will be strengthened against street gangs and their activities, especially those involving young persons. All reports of domestic violence will be handled and investigated professionally.

On triads, Police will continue its efforts in targeting triad personalities and their activities as well as cross-boundary and transnational syndicated or organised crime activities, including syndicated smuggling activities; and investigating and confiscating the proceeds of crime. Police added the combat of syndicated illegal immigration activities this year.

Police will enhance its cooperation with overseas law enforcement agencies to interdict the flow of illicit drugs into Hong Kong; proactively target drug traffickers, especially those exploiting youths and students and take proactive measures to investigate and confiscate proceeds of drug trafficking. A multi-agency and community-based approach will be adopted to promote awareness and prevent the abuse of drugs by students and juveniles.

As for quick cash crimes, Police will focus on combating criminal syndicates involving deception, particularly telephone, Internet and social media deception. Police will also lay stress on anti-deception publicity and education to enhance public awareness.

“To enhance cyber security and combat technology crimes” remains to be one of the operational priorities. Police will continue to adopt a multi-agency approach to promote public awareness of cyber security as well as the risk of being exploited while using the Internet and social media; enhance cooperation with other law enforcement agencies to target technology crime; and strengthen coordination and sharing of expertise in handling and investigating technology crime.

Regarding public safety, Police will enhance public understanding and support for the roles and responsibilities of the Police in maintaining public order and public safety for the community; engage organisers and other stakeholders of public events to enhance mutual understanding and enlist their support. Ensuring the 2017 Chief Executive Election and events hosted in connection with the 20th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region are held in a safe, orderly and secure manner is also included as a priority this year. On road safety, Police will reduce fatal and serious accidents through a multi-agency approach and stress on the maintenance of smooth traffic flow through implementing the Selected Traffic Enforcement Priorities.

As regards counter-terrorism, Police will continue to strengthen intelligence collection on terrorism to enhance protection of critical infrastructure and sensitive premises; conduct regular training and multi-agency exercises to test and improve contingency plans; and deploy counter-terrorist resources strategically to ensure a timely, effective and coordinated response.

“All the aforementioned results shall be attributed to the concerted efforts of all the Force members and the law-abiding majority of the public. Despite the satisfactory law and order situation, my team and me shall not slacken our efforts but always remain vigilant at all time.

“Looking ahead, Police will continue to face challenges like cross-boundary deception, technology crimes, and the ever increasing public order events. The Force will continue to rise to the challenge and maintain the law and order of Hong Kong,” Mr Lo concluded.

Also attending the press conference were the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management), Mr Chau Kwok-leung, and the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations), Mr Lau Yip-shing.

24.1.2017


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