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Beijing 2008 Olympic Equestrian Events and Paralympic Equestrian Events

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Equestrian Events and the Paralympic Games Equestrian Events presented the Force with the significant challenge of ensuring that the events were held smoothly in a safe and secure environment, of maintaining normal policing service to the public, and of retaining the capacity to respond effectively to any major incident that may occur.

Olympic Torch Relay

A total of 119 torchbearers participated in the Olympic Torch Relay that was held on May 2, 2008. The torchbearers were enthusiastically cheered on by huge crowds that lined the route past some of Hong Kong's best known landmarks. The Relay met with wide public acclaim, reflecting the professional preparation and great attention to detail provided by the Force. The Equestrian Events Planning Team of Operations Wing led the way, working in partnership with the Home Affairs Bureau and the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China.

Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events

In order to meet the challenges of the Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events, Operations Wing again led the Force's efforts in partnership with the Beijing Organising Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), the Equestrian Committee chaired by the Chief Secretary, the Government Steering Committee chaired by the Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, the Home Affairs Bureau, colleagues in other Government departments, the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the Equestrian Company of the XXIX Olympiad.

Before and during the events, many officers had to work in arduous conditions, and the Force was able to prepare these officers through a detailed programme of training and briefing, which included significant input by the Force Psychological Services Group. The Force also provided a range of equipment, facilities, and shift systems to limit the effects of the heat and humidity. Although many officers faced considerable challenges due to the events, there was a pervasive sense of pride in a job well done, and a feeling that the sacrifices of the officers and their families had been rewarded by the successful completion of the Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events.

Some 270 athletes participated in the Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events, which attracted over 185 000 spectators. Praise for the Force was expressed by the Executive Vice-President of BOCOG, Mr Yang Shu'an, and by many distinguished guests. Mr Henry Tang, the Chief Secretary for Administration and the President of the Equestrian Committee, congratulated the Force for the role it played in delivering one of the best ever Olympic and Paralympic Events, and for leaving Hong Kong an Olympic and Paralympic legacy in which we can all take pride.

Tackling Crime and Maintaining a Safe Society

The overall crime situation remained stable during 2008, with the total number of crime and violent crime reports falling by 2.9 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively in comparison with 2007. This represents an overall crime rate of 1 123 cases, and a violent crime rate of 207 cases per 100 000 residents. The detection rate also remained steady at just under 46 per cent.

There were no reports concerning the use of genuine firearms in the year, and reports of serious assault, blackmail, robbery, snatching, pickpocketing and deception all fell. Although an increase in homicide cases was seen in 2008 when compared with the record low figure of such crime in 2007, the figure was still lower than the yearly average for the past 10 years. Of the homicide cases reported in 2008, almost 90 per cent were detected.

Organised Crime and Triads

In 2008, the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB) continued to mount pro-active and intelligence-led operations to combat triad and criminal activities, particularly illegal bookmaking, theft of vehicles and human smuggling.

Two successful raids were conducted with 11 persons arrested and betting slips valued at $30 million seized. In regard to vehicle crime, the Bureau neutralised eight vehicle theft syndicates with 22 persons arrested and 19 vehicles recovered. The Bureau also worked closely with the Immigration Department to target human smuggling activities.

With a view to enhancing anti-triad activities in the territory, the Mainland and Macao, a large-scale tripartite operation was coordinated by the Bureau and mounted between June and July in 2008, which resulted in the arrest of a total of 1 664 persons in Hong Kong for various triad-related offences and other crimes. Dangerous drugs valued at around $15 million were also seized during this operation.

Criminal Intelligence
In 2008, the Criminal Intelligence Bureau continued to play a key role in ensuring intelligence-led policing within the Force to combat triad and organised crime activities. The Bureau spearheaded various projects under the Force's Strategic Direction of 'Strengthening Criminal Intelligence Gathering Force-wide'. The Bureau also continued to make contributions towards effective co-operation and partnership with the Mainland, Macao and overseas counterparts via various joint operations, intelligence exchange and experience sharing.

Commercial Crime
With a view to maintaining Hong Kong's safe and stable business environment, the Commercial Crime Bureau (CCB) continued to implement a structured intelligence-based approach to its investigations into syndicated and serious frauds, counterfeit, forgery cases, and technology crimes.

Overall offences perpetrated by street deception gangs continued to fall. This was attributable to the pro-active targeting of syndicated criminals through intelligence-led operations, which resulted in the successful neutralisation of three 'spiritual blessing' street deception syndicates. Educational publicity campaigns to raise public awareness against street deceptions continued throughout the year.

Lottery frauds saw an increase of cases in 2008. These cases involved overseas Chinese as victims, who were duped into believing that they had won a prize in a lottery and were coerced into remitting funds to the suspects in order to receive their 'prize money'. In 2008, 12 fraud syndicates were neutralised by CCB with 34 people arrested for lottery scams involving some $39 million.

In respect of counterfeit currency and payment cards, 3 156 pieces of counterfeit Hong Kong banknotes and 645 pieces of counterfeit payment cards were seized in Hong Kong. This represents a respective decrease of 39 per cent and three per cent when compared with 2007. Owing to CCB's successful intelligence partnerships with the Mainland and other overseas partners, offences relating to the circulation of counterfeit currencies and payment cards in Hong Kong were reduced to a minimum.

In January 2008, the CCB and the Economic Crime Investigation Department of Shenzhen mounted a joint operation and successfully neutralised an active cross-boundary counterfeit credit card manufacturing syndicate based in Shenzhen. In October 2008, six core members including two Australians and four Taiwanese of a transnational counterfeit currency syndicate were convicted of 'conspiracy to pass counterfeit currency notes' and sentenced to imprisonment ranging between 40 and 54 months.

CCB spares no effort in investigating commercial crimes, including two 'Boiler Room' fraud cases in which British victims were deceived out of $1.5 billion. The case concluded with the conviction of a British man and a Malaysian man for the offence of 'money laundering'.

The extensive and highly efficient IT infrastructure in Hong Kong contributed to the increase in technology related crimes. In 2008, the Force received a total of 791 reports of technology crime and the total monetary loss totalled about $24 million.

To meet the vision of ensuring cyber security for the Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events, 2008 was a busy year for the Technology Crime Division. Due to seamless co-operation between the Division and many local and overseas strategic partners, both major events concluded smoothly without any significant cyber incidents.

Reducing youth drug abuse remained a priority for the Force in 2008. The Force participated in the Task Force on Youth Drug Abuse headed by the Secretary for Justice and took steps to enhance its role in preventive education and publicity. During the year, the Force seized numerous large consignments of drugs, thereby considerably curtailing the supply.

Joint efforts with the Mainland and overseas counterparts led to the interdiction of a number of cross-boundary drug trafficking activities, arrests of criminals and the dismantling of drug production sites. Substantial drug seizures were also made outside Hong Kong.

Financial Investigations
During the year, the Force made greater use of financial investigations in combating local and transnational crimes.

In June 2008, the inter-governmental body, the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, concluded its mutual evaluation of Hong Kong. The Task Force highly commended the Force for its strong enforcement efforts against money laundering, which have led to impressive prosecution results. The Joint Financial Intelligence Unit was also praised for its efficacy in handling financial intelligence and its extensive outreach to the private sector in mounting education publicity work.

Crime Prevention
Crime Prevention Bureau continued to focus its crime prevention efforts through educational publicity programmes on prevalent crime trends. Tourists and visitors to the Olympic Equestrian Events were provided with timely, appropriate and useful advice so as to prevent them from becoming victims of crime.

In 2008, the Bureau extended its care for the elderly, who have increasingly become a target for trickery and deceptive crimes. Enhanced liaison was maintained with schools, with a view to soliciting help from students to educate their elderly relatives about the dangers of crime. In addition, crime preventive VCD and TV programmes were produced for the benefit of the elderly.

In March, the INTERPOL National Central Bureau, China hosted the 20th INTERPOL Asian Regional Conference in Hong Kong. As a sub-bureau of the National Central Bureau, China, the Police co-hosted the biennial event.

In April 2008, the Liaison Bureau attended the 14th Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Tripartite CID Heads' Meeting, further cementing ties with the Mainland and Macao in the fight against cross-boundary crimes.

One of the core activities of the Bureau is to assist the Department of Justice in handling overseas judicial requests for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and the surrender of fugitive offenders. By the end of 2008, the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region had signed bilateral agreements with 25 countries for 'Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters' and 17 countries for 'Surrender of Fugitive Offenders'.

Forensic Support
The Identification Bureau continued to contribute professional fingerprint and forensic photography services to the Force. Since May 2008, the latest Computer Assisted Palmprint and Fingerprint Identification System has replaced the old system for computerised search of fingerprints and palmprints. Its additional capability of storing and searching palmprints, coupled with state-of-the-art matching technology, has greatly enhanced the Force's effectiveness and efficiency in fingerprints processing.

Forensic Firearms Examination
During the year, Forensic Firearms Examination Bureau (FFEB) continued to establish close ties with its counterparts in the Mainland and Macao. In June 2008, delegates from FFEB attended the Tripartite Technical Support Meeting in Foshan, during which valuable experience sharing on firearms examination was achieved.

Criminal Records
In 2008, the Criminal Records Bureau continued to maintain the Enhanced Police Operational Nominal Index Computer System, which contains databases on convicted criminals, wanted and missing persons, and many other aspects. The information is made readily available to frontline Police officers and other Government departments round the clock.

Domestic Violence
Since 2006, the Force has implemented a series of enhancement measures to strengthen the initial handling and subsequent investigation of a domestic violence report.

In 2008, the Force launched a Victim Management protocol for victims of domestic violence cases with a view to strengthening the support and safety assurance to victims throughout the case enquiry and legal proceedings. In response to the extended scope of protected persons under the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Ordinance 2008, the Force created a new case-related type of 'Family Violence (Crime)' to cover violent incidents between non-spousal relatives.

Major Incident Investigation and Disaster Support
In 2008, Major Incident Investigation and Disaster Support was continuously committed to upgrading its systems to effectively assist frontline investigating officers in the information management of investigations of serious and complex crimes as well as disaster victim identifications.

Witness Protection Unit
The Witness Protection Unit continued to be the primary agency of choice for other Asia-Pacific law enforcement agencies wishing to benchmark their witness protection programme management.

Police Negotiation Cadre
The Police Negotiation Cadre (PNC), a volunteer unit within the Force, continued to demonstrate its commitment to selflessly saving lives within the community, with a total of 130 critical incident call-outs in 2008 for attempted suicide, barricaded situations and hostage incidents. The PNC was also an integral and important part of the Force's involvement in the Olympic Equestrian Events.

Counter Terrorism
Vigilance was increased in 2008 to ensure the safety and success of the Olympic Equestrian Events in view of a potentially heightened terrorist threat. Security briefings and seminars were conducted with a wide range of Government and private sector partners, including the aviation and maritime communities, public transport and public utility providers. Major exercises were conducted at the Shenzhen Bay Port, on the rail network and in multiple Police Regions.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau
The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Bureau provides the only bomb disposal capability in Hong Kong and forms an essential part of the Force's counter terrorism response. The Bureau's full-time staff are enhanced by the EOD Cadre, a group of part-time volunteers, who are trained in improvised explosive device disposal. In 2008, the EOD Cadre took part in planned operations at the Olympic Torch Relay, Olympic Equestrian Events and various VIP/Internationally Protected Person visits that required counter terrorism response services from the Bureau.

Police Tactical Unit Headquarters
The Police Tactical Unit (PTU) Headquarters continues to train PTU Companies in order that they may deal with a full range of policing issues ranging from unexpected disasters and major incidents to crowd management operations and the handling of public order events.

Prior to the Olympic Equestrian Events, PTU Headquarters contributed significantly to the enhancement of preparations for dealing with anticipated public order activities during the Olympic period. This was achieved through ad hoc intensive training courses and the introduction of company scale exercises. During the execution phase of the events in August and September 2008, staff of PTU Headquarters actively supported frontline units by participating in the enhanced manning of the Force's Headquarters Command and Control Centre and by providing Force Medic Teams at Equestrian Event venues.

PTU Headquarters also led the way in celebrating a very special milestone in its history, namely its 50th Anniversary. Introduced as the Police Training Contingent in 1958 and subsequently renamed the Police Tactical Unit in 1968, PTU and its officers have been directly involved in nearly all of the major incidents and policing operations that have challenged the Territory over the past five decades. To celebrate this proud history, PTU Headquarters arranged a series of celebratory events during 2008, culminating in a grand parade in November.

Police Dog Unit
Police dogs played an important role in a number of police operations in 2008. These included the screening of the Hong Kong Stadium for the Rugby Sevens; hotel and venue searches for Internationally Protected Persons and Central People's Government leader visits. Other major security operations included the Olympic Torch Relay and the Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events.

Force Search Unit
In 2008, the Force Search Unit (FSU) played an important role in the Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events. Beginning in early July, a number of defensive venue search operations were conducted by the 500 FSU cadre members equipped with advanced search equipment and explosives sniffer dogs.

Public Relations
The Police Public Relations Branch (PPRB) plays an important role in keeping the public informed of the work of the Force and maintaining good relations with all sectors of the community in order to enlist public support for maintaining law and order.

Details of Police policies and operational priorities continue to be disseminated to the public by Police Community Relations Officers, while the Junior Police Call Scheme and the Police School Liaison Programme serve as bridges between the Police and young people.

During 2008, to keep the public abreast of crime trends and crime prevention measures, PPRB worked closely with Radio Television Hong Kong, Cable TV, other TV broadcasters and film production companies, both local and overseas, to produce TV programmes, which included the Police Magazine, Police Report and Police Bulletin, as well as other police-related dramas and documentaries. It also facilitated filming business and offered support to the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority by processing filming-related licence applications.

Over the passage of 35 years, Police Magazine has continued to expand its audience network, reaching a wide segment of society. During the year, the programme received the Award of TV Appreciation Index 2007.

Information about Police activities is disseminated to local and overseas media organisations round-the-clock. PPRB also produces a number of publications, including a bi-weekly newspaper called OffBeat, a JPC monthly newsletter and an annual report, Hong Kong Police Review. Last year, the Review won the Silver Award in the Governmental Annual Report category of the Galaxy Awards 2008. PPRB also assisted the Fight Crime Committee in planning and implementing the Fight Crime Publicity Campaign 2008-09.

In 2008, 80 citizens who assisted the Police in their fight against crime were bestowed awards under the Good Citizen Award Scheme organised by the Police Force and sponsored by the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce.

Police hotlines and Crime Information Forms provide convenient channels for reporting crime. A total of 23 076 hotline phone calls, excluding those made to the 999 emergency hotline, and 1 950 Crime Information Forms sent to the Police were recorded by year-end, resulting in 245 arrests.

Licensing Office
In order to give organisers of public order events a better understanding of related ordinance and procedures for notifying the Police, Licensing Office and PPRB uploaded the Guidance Note on Notification of Public Procession / Public Meeting to the Hong Kong Police website in April 2008.

During the year, Licensing Office processed 1 425 notifications of the intention to hold a public meeting / procession. The office also processed 190 applications for massage establishment licences, 209 applications for pawnbroker licences and 3 551 applications for liquor licences.

Occupational Safety and Health
During the past year, real progress was made by the various Force working groups that were set up to reduce Top 'X' risks to safety, to reduce accidents and to ensure that in terms of the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance the risk was as low as is reasonably practicable. The new e-Force Safety Management System is ready for roll out to Major Formations once the facilitators have undergone training.

Transport Division
Environmental awareness and continued promotion of green practices has begun to impact upon the overall efficiency of Police land transport. In 2008, the Police took delivery of 92 environmental friendly hybrid vehicles and 79 low-emission, fuel-efficient EURO IV diesel vehicles. Six zero-emission electric scooters were put on evaluation trial in three Police Districts in mid-2008 with a further four machines to be delivered in 2009.

Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force
The Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force helps the regular force in crowd management and foot patrols. In 2008, the Auxiliary Force also assisted during the Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events and the Legislative Council election.