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Regional Commanders' Report

Regional Commitments

In 2008, the Regions continued to provide a safe and stable environment for the public at large, even though the Regions were heavily committed throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events and in the management of a number of major public order events.

In respect to the prevention and reduction of crime, partnership with local communities and ethnic minorities, various governmental agencies and non-governmental agencies continued to play a key role in the successful implementation of a variety of fight crime programmes. The rise in drug abuse activities, in particular those involving youths, remained a prime concern and will continue to be one of the Regions' operational priorities in the coming year.

Looking ahead, pro-active enforcement actions will continue with community engagement to be further enhanced to preserve public order and safety in the changing economic environment. Another major challenge will be the policing of the Hong Kong 2009 East Asian Games, which will involve over 20 venues in most of the Regions.

Hong Kong Island Region
In 2008, public order event management remained a high priority for Hong Kong Island Region and accounted for a large expenditure of time and resources. Of particular note were the special arrangements for the Olympic Torch Relay, Olympic Live Site at Victoria Park, the Legislative Council election, the Clinton Global Initiative Asia Meeting, the visit by the astronauts of Shenzhou 7 and more than 1 800 public processions and meetings. These public activities covered a wide range of groups with diverse aims. Building on the experience gained over the years, the Region was able to effectively balance the needs and expectations of the community with those of the organisations and individuals that wished to express their views.

In addition to managing public order events, sufficient resources were retained to address core watch and ward duties, road safety and traffic management. In 2008, the Region recorded 14 789 crime cases, a decrease of 4.1 per cent as compared to 2007. There was a significant decline in miscellaneous thefts, wounding and serious assaults, pickpocketing and deception; although increases were seen in shop theft, burglary and robbery. The total number of traffic accidents also showed a downward trend during the year.

Kowloon East Region
The Kowloon East Regional Action Plan 2008 placed particular emphasis on indecent assault, pickpocketing, crimes associated with building and home security, and domestic violence. Additionally, the use of dangerous drugs by juvenile and young persons was targeted. At the end of the year, Kowloon East Region had achieved a reduction in overall crime of 9.9 per cent.

Working in partnership with non-governmental organisations, the Region organised a series of anti-drug programmes that focused on young persons and a series of workshops for school headmasters that sought to educate, raise awareness and encourage a concerted approach to the problems caused by youth drug culture.

In order to educate teachers and students about the dangers of drug abuse, the Region launched Project 'Sunshine', which established a working partnership between the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, district personnel, the Narcotics Bureau and the Government Chemist. This project was very well received.

The Region's officers were especially pro-active in enhancing security awareness among vulnerable village house residents through the 'One Flat One Alarm' scheme. Local officers conducted security surveys and risk assessment of vulnerable properties, followed by distribution of home security booklets and advisory letters to vulnerable households.

The Project 'Eyes and Ears' was initiated to engage all stakeholders in the railway community to gather intelligence and combat crimes. With the support of the MTR Corporation, Police directly engaged all frontline MTR station staff, shop assistants as well as passengers in expanding avenues for reporting crime information. A similar initiative was also implemented at public car parks managed by the Link REIT, aiming at reduction of vehicle crimes. The project resulted in a significant decrease in theft from vehicle as compared to the preceding year.

Using a multi-agency approach, the Region launched a trial scheme entitled Project 'Safe-ride' in March 2008 to enhance the awareness of public light bus (PLB) drivers in regard to road safety and to combat speeding offences. A notice showing the Police 'Safe-ride' Complaint Hotline was displayed inside PLBs so that any breaches of traffic codes could be reported immediately via the hotline. Both PLB operators and drivers gave overwhelming support to the trial scheme. As a result, the scheme was implemented territory-wide starting from November 2008.

On the operational front, the Region's officers also contributed to the effective policing of the Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events and the Legislative Council election.

Kowloon West Region
After a continuous drop in overall crime throughout the past five years, Kowloon West Region recorded a slight 3.8 per cent increase in reported crime in 2008. Nevertheless, the Region achieved further reductions in blackmail, theft from vehicle, taking conveyance without authority and robbery, by 34.2 per cent, 16.6 per cent, 15.3 per cent and 5.2 per cent respectively.

Drug trafficking inside places of public entertainment remains a key concern in the region, with Ketamine being the common drug of choice. As part of the Force's efforts in support of the Task Force on Youth Drug Abuse, pro-active checks and enforcement action continued throughout the year, resulting in five problematic disco-type entertainment premises and one bar being closed. Youth anti-drug programmes run jointly by the Region's Crime Prevention Office and tertiary educational establishments continued.

In pursuance of the Commissioner's Strategic Direction of 'Engaging the Community', the Region pro-actively engaged significant Non Ethnic Chinese (NEC) communities at different levels. In addition to the on-going efforts of Yau Tsim District, Kowloon City District, with its large South Asian community comprising Thais, Pakistanis, Nepalese, Filipinos, Indians, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis, launched initiatives to foster trust and co-operation and minimise misunderstanding. Both districts organised seminars to brief the NEC community on the various facets of Police work and how to report crime. Crime Information Forms and advice on licensing matters, in native languages, were regularly given out during liaison visits.

New Territories North Region
2008 was a challenging and eventful year for New Territories North (NTN) Region. The Region was heavily committed throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events. In addition to the Region's major commitments in venue security operations, the Force was greatly engaged in the protection of key points, critical infrastructures, training venues, major transport systems and the public transport interchanges close to the venues in the Region. A Quick Reaction Force was provided for emergencies and contingencies in support of regular guarding duties at the two venues.

The general crime situation in the Region for the year of 2008 was stable. There was a slight decrease of 0.2 per cent in overall crime with most key crimes seeing decreases ranging from 0.6 per cent to 16.1 per cent. In particular, following a series of intelligence-led enforcement operations against metal theft activities and the adoption of a multi-agency crime prevention strategy, the Region successfully reversed the rising trend of miscellaneous thefts, which dropped significantly by 8.4 per cent.

Pursuant to the anti-drug strategies set out by the Task Force on Youth Drug Abuse, the Region stepped up pro-active anti-drug enforcement actions, which partially contributed to the increase of 12.6 per cent in serious narcotic offences.

The Region devoted considerable efforts to tackling the employment of NEC illegal immigrants in labour intensive employment locations and remote areas. The Region mounted frequent enforcement operations in close collaboration with the Immigration and Labour Departments, which proved to be an effective deterrent to employers.

The Region continued to launch frequent operations targeting drink driving and road racing activities as well as educational campaigns on pedestrian and cyclist safety. Overall traffic accidents dropped by 0.9 per cent whilst accidents involving serious injuries were reduced by 11.3 per cent.

New Territories South Region
The major achievement in 2008 was the successful holding of the Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events at the Sha Tin venue from August to September. Not the least of the challenges was moving all the horses to and from the airport in safety and housing them in Sha Tin during the Games.

2008 saw a modest decrease of 6 per cent in reported crime as compared to 2007. The crime situation remained stable with a 17.9 per cent decrease in robbery and a 4.7 per cent decrease in burglary. These two crimes in 2008 saw the lowest incidence since 1994, when the Region was formally established. Whilst focusing on the prevailing trend of youth drug abuse, enhanced enforcement action resulted in an increase of 22.1 per cent in arrests for serious narcotics offences.

The Region continued to enhance community relations with projects such as the 'Family Support Scheme' and 'Neighbourhood Ambassador for a Harmonious Family'. One of the main themes of the year was to foster harmonious relationships in the community.

Marine Region

The Black Rainstorm on June 7, 2008 was the highest rainfall recorded in the history of Hong Kong. The storm caused serious destruction, disrupting potable water supply to villages and cutting road links to Lantau and Tai O. Marine Police formed an integral part of the multi-pronged Government approach to assisting Tai O residents to restore normality to their lives, providing logistic support including ferrying Police officers and other Government staff as well as basic food items to affected areas.

In 2008, Marine Region continued to focus on sea safety in the territory and put forward important recommendations to the Safety Afloat Committee. The number of fatalities involving recreational activities at sea was maintained at a low level of seven. Throughout the year, Marine Police maintained a multi-agency approach to combating smuggling activities. There was a noticeable reduction in both fast-moving targets and seizure of contraband.

The Region was responsible for the water-borne security of the Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian Events at the Sha Tin venue and for ensuring the smooth running of various events. In addition, the Region also enhanced the maritime security of Hong Kong International Airport and Victoria Harbour to cover the arrival and departure of Internationally Protected Persons, VIPs and competition horses.

The Versatile Maritime Policing Response strategy was in full swing in 2008 with two barge platforms and 12 launches commissioned into service. These have greatly enhanced the efficiency and capability of Marine Police. There will be further deliveries of 11 Medium Patrol Launches and 17 Divisional Fast Patrol Craft in phases over the next two years.