The Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) and the Centre for Comparative and Public Law of the University of Hong Kong co-hosted a symposium on the university campus on May 27. The event was open to the public, attracting an audience of about 200, including officers from Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO), Police College and representatives from staff associations and Police Districts.
With "The Police Complaints System in Hong Kong - Where Are We Heading" as the theme, the symposium comprised three plenary sessions covering the topics of "An Overview of Police Complaints System from an International Perspective: Experience Sharing", "The Police Complaints System in Hong Kong: Operational Challenges and Opportunities", and "Balance between Police Powers and Civil Rights".
Mr Justice Robert Tang Ching, Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal, was the guest of honour at the symposium. Guest speakers included Dr Graham Smith from the University of Manchester in the UK, Mr Gerry McNeilly from the Canadian Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, and scholars from the Hong Kong University (HKU).
In his opening address at the symposium, Mr Justice Tang, who was IPCC Chairman between 2000 and 2004, acknowledged the accomplishments of the Force over the years. "It may come as a surprise to many here that even in the 1970's, some people believed 'a good man will not become a policeman'. Fortunately, those days were long gone. The police force has improved beyond recognition. It is fair to say that the police in Hong Kong enjoy a hard earned reputation for their professionalism and dedication," he noted.
On behalf of the Force, Director of Management Services Lau Yip-shing and Complaints & Internal Investigations Branch Chief Superintendent Lam Man-sai attended the first and second plenary sessions as speakers. Both highlighted the cultural change within the Force over the years to become a service-oriented organisation. They pointed out that Hong Kong had a very low crime rate and less corruptions and complaints against the Police in recent years compared with overseas jurisdictions. In addition, Mr David Hodson, former Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) and Fellow of Centre for Criminology, HKU, was also invited to present his views on the balance of police powers and civil rights.
In general, the audience was impressed with the Force's continuous efforts and professionalism. Some described the Force as a "Premier Police Force" and its service as "second to none in the world".
In his closing remarks, IPCC Chairman, Mr Jat Sew-tong, pointed out that about 80 percent of complaints against police were trivial or minor in nature, adding that both IPCC and CAPO would devote more resources to improving services.
Sharing Mr Jat's views, Mr Lau said CAPO would continue to work in close partnership with IPCC to enhance the credibility of the two-tier complaints system and maintain public confidence.