Date
25 March 2017
The Hong Kong Police Force has 29,377 disciplined officers and 4,579 civilian staff. But most of the uniformed officers are invisible. You rarely see them on street patrols. Photo: HKEJ
The Hong Kong Police Force has 29,377 disciplined officers and 4,579 civilian staff. But most of the uniformed officers are invisible. You rarely see them on street patrols. Photo: HKEJ

Police sweeping bad news under the carpet?

An ill-tempered taxi driver was jammed in Wan Chai Road. He gave a furious blast on his horn but the sedan in front didn’t budge.

He knew it wouldn’t move but he honked anyway.

When the car finally moved, the pedestrian crossing light had turned green. He was trapped again and couldn’t go.

After everyone had crossed the road, he dashed off, running a red light.

This half minute of my life was memorable. I was totally shocked.

If the police were there, the taxi driver would have earned three traffic tickets for standing inside a yellow box, sounding his horn and jumping a red light.

How could there be drivers like him behaving so recklessly?

Reason: law enforcement is too little and too infrequent.

As of the end of last month, the Hong Kong Police Force had 29,377 disciplined officers and 4,579 civilian staff.

Strangely enough, they are most of the time invisible. Rarely would you bump into police officers patrolling the streets.

Even if they are present, there’s a high chance that the officers might not take any action.

Well, drivers parking illegally in the streets and pedestrians ignoring the traffic light are just a few examples that prove my point.

The police just shirk what they ought to do.

In fact, at the very spot I mentioned, not only notorious cabbies but also bus drivers often stop inside the box. The pedestrians are forced to cross the road outside the designated area.

Where are these 29,377 disciplined officers?

Some police spokesmen often appear on TV, proudly announcing that Hong Kong’s crime rate has been declining.

The reality is not quite the case.

When the economy is good and CCTV cameras are everywhere, the probability of an individual committing a crime is low.

In short, fewer crimes are expected in good, peaceful days.

While the police have to tackle major crimes, it is also their responsibility to maintain social order including traffic safety.

They don’t seem to have done a good job. What is worse is that they don’t seem to care about their negligence.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 10.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

DY/AC/RA

HKEJ columnist; art, culture and food critic

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe