Hong Kong’s overall law and order situation continued to improve last year, thanks to the concerted efforts of police personnel and support of the law-abiding public, the city’s police chief said on Tuesday.
At a press conference held to review the 2017 crime situation, Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung said Hong Kong recorded a total of 56,017 crime cases last year, down 7.6 percent from the previous year and representing the lowest such level since 1975.
The crime rate, which is measured by number of crimes per 100,000 people, stood at 758 cases in 2017, hitting a new low in 46 years, Lo said.
There were generally fewer cases of robbery, deception, criminal damage, wounding, serious assault, burglary, etc., last year. However, there an increase in the number of cases related to indecent assault and missing motor vehicles.
During the year, there were 511 reported cases of missing motor vehicles, marking an increase of 18 percent from such cases in 2016, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
As for cases of indecent assault, they stood at 1,077 in number, representing a 5.7 percent increase from the previous year.
While deception cases were down 2.3 percent in number at 7,091, police data show the number of cases involving “romance scams” more than doubled from 2016.
Victims in those cases suffered combined loss of about HK$108 million, up HK$12 million compared to such figure in the previous year.
As for phone scams, cases where callers pretended to be government or law enforcement officials still accounted for the most part of such deception cases.
The phone scam cases involved people complaining of HK$230 million losses in total.
Among other crimes, the numbers of criminal damage, wounding and serious assault, and burglary cases were down 3.8, 8.2 and 22.9 respectively.
During the press conference, Lo faced questions related to the jailing of former senior police officer Frankly Chu King-wai over a 2014 assault case and the feelings of his force over that incident.
Referring to concerns raised by some pro-establishment members of the Legislative Council’s Panel on Security as to how the police force can protect its frontline officers, and whether the force would support legislation of a law making insulting on-duty officers a crime, Lo said the police force will support all lawful and reasonable requests.
Earlier this month, a local court handed retired policeman Chu a three-month jail sentence after he was found guilty of attacking an innocent pedestrian during a 2014 Occupy pro-democracy protest. The jail term came in for huge criticism from establishment groups, who said it will hurt police morale.
There have been 35, 19, 10, and 25 reported cases involving citizens insulting frontline officers in each of the past four years since the guidelines for handling abusive behavior by members of the public were issued in March 2014, according to Lo.
He pointed out that political disputes in recent years have often brought unnecessary challenges to frontline officers.
Efforts are underway to make sure the police force will do its best to cope with the challenges, through initiatives such as offering them more psychological counseling and providing them better equipment, including body cameras, Lo said.
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