Press Conference on Hong Kong Crime Situation of Year 2017

Press Conference on Hong Kong Crime Situation of Year 2017 HKP YouTube

Overall law & order situation continued to improve in 2017

The Commissioner (second right) meets the media with Deputy Commissioner (Operations) Lau Yip-shing (third right) and Deputy Commissioner (Management) Chiu Wai-yin (first right)
The Commissioner (second right) meets the media with Deputy Commissioner (Operations) Lau Yip-shing (third right) and Deputy Commissioner (Management) Chiu Wai-yin (first right)
 
The Commissioner attends a radio programme to review the local security situation in 2017
The Commissioner attends a radio programme to review the local security situation in 2017
 
 

The overall law and order situation in Hong Kong continued to improve in 2017, with a decrease of the overall crime rate by 7.6 per cent as compared with that of 2016, Commissioner Lo Wai-chung said at a year-end press conference on January 23.

He said that the overall crime figures dropped to 56 017 cases, a decrease of 4 629 cases or 7.6 per cent over 2016. The figure was the lowest since 1975. The crime rate measuring by the number of crimes per 100 000 population stood at 758 cases, representing a new low in 46 years.

A total of 9 086 cases of violent crime were recorded last year, a drop of 1 017 cases or 10.1 per cent when compared with 2016 and representing a new low in 45 years.

The majority of the crime categories were registered with a decrease, including homicide, robbery, rape, blackmail, burglary, serious drug offences, wounding and serious assault, criminal damage, criminal intimidation, arson and deception. Major crimes with the number of cases increased included indecent assault (up 5.7 per cent) and missing motor vehicles (up 18 per cent).

Indecent assault & missing motor vehicles

There were 1 077 indecent assault cases in 2017, a rise of 58 cases from 2016. The increase was mainly driven by cases that took place at public places, on board public transport or at stations. Police attach great importance to sex crimes, and will continue to step up uniformed and plainclothes patrol, maintain close co-operation with public transport companies. The public are encouraged to make police report as soon as possible in case they fall prey to such crimes. Police will definitely take follow-up actions seriously.

There were 511 missing motor vehicles reported in 2017, 78 units more than 2016. Such an increase was attributed to a rise in theft of motorcycles which were mostly low-priced or mid-priced ones parked along the streets. No intelligence indicated any syndicated smuggling of the stolen vehicles out of the territory. Police spared no effort in combating the relevant crime. Last year, 127 persons were arrested for stealing 130 vehicles.

Homicide, robbery & rape

As regards cases on the decrease, there were 24 cases of homicide in 2017, a drop of four cases compared with 2016. Twenty-three cases were detected. Seventy per cent of the cases involved couple relationship, family problems, grudges among neighbours and disputes arising from various reasons.

For robbery, there were 163 cases in 2017, a decrease of 97 cases compared with 2016. The figure marked a record low since the relevant statistics were first kept in 1969. No robbery case involved the use of genuine firearm.

In 2017, there were 65 rape cases, a decrease of six cases (down 8.5 per cent) compared with 2016. Sixty cases were detected. Seven cases involved strangers, of which six were detected. There were 15 cases involving victims aged under 16 and all cases were committed by acquaintances. Police make every effort to investigate rape cases. Apart from stepping up patrol, Police will continue with the crime prevention publicity.

Deception & blackmail

For deception, there were 7 091 cases in 2017, a decrease of 169 cases or 2.3 per cent over 2016. Despite a decline was noted in the total number of deception, an increase was seen in online business fraud, which totalled 1 996 cases, a rise of 394 cases, involving a loss of HK$34.5 million. Around 80 per cent of the cases involved customer-to-customer online trading.

Besides, street deception totalled 90 cases in 2017, which was a 2.6-fold increase compared with 2016. Sixty-three per cent of the cases involved spiritual blessing. All victims were senior citizens and a loss of around HK$7 million was recorded. Police strived to combat street deception resulting in the arrest of 19 persons in connection with at least 35 street deception cases, incurring a loss of HK$2.7 million.

An increase was also noted in "romance scams". A total of 235 cases were recorded in 2017, more than double of the total of 2016, incurring a loss of around HK$108 million (up 13.6 per cent). Police strengthened law enforcement. In October last year, Police co-operated with the Malaysian police and neutralised a syndicate of 11 persons including the mastermind in Malaysia, leading to the detection of at least 49 Hong Kong cases which incurred a loss of HK$25 million.

As for telephone deception, 991 cases were recorded in 2017, a drop of 147 cases (down 12.9 per cent) over 2016. "Pretend officials" remained the most prevalent modus operandi, accounting for around 70 per cent of all telephone deception cases. Among the 618 victims suffering monetary loss in "pretend officials" cases, 75 per cent of them were aged below 30, half of them were new arrivals, including those who came to study, work and visit relatives and new immigrants.

Police mounted a joint operation with the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department and Foshan Public Security Bureau in May last year and neutralised a telephone deception syndicate. Altogether seven male and female mainlanders were arrested for at least 21 "detained son" cases in Hong Kong which involved a loss of around HK$2 million. Police arrested 14 persons in Hong Kong for 32 cases of "pretend officials". These cases incurred a total loss of around HK$27 million.

Police's Anti-Deception Coordination Centre (ADCC) was established in July last year. Over 12 000 calls have been received so far. The officers explained the situation to the public and offered them with suitable advice. ADCC also co-operated with the banking sector to intercept payments to fraudsters. Since July 2017, ADCC has successfully intercepted over HK$180 million of more than 110 deception cases and prevented 49 deception cases from materialising.

A total of 579 cases of blackmail were recorded in 2017, a drop of 415 cases when compared with 2016. Fifty-three per cent of these cases were related to "naked chat", which totalled 305 cases (down 56.2 per cent) with pecuniary loss totalled HK$900,000. There were 43 blackmail cases involving "ransomware", a drop of 20 cases. Three of the cases incurred loss totalling HK$110,000.

Although the number of reported cases and loss incurred from such kind of crime were not substantial, these cases often involved intrusion of personal privacy and aroused public concern. Police attach great importance to the handling of these cases. However, the cross-boundary nature of such technology crime poses difficulty to police investigation. Police will co-operate with overseas and Mainland law enforcement agencies with the assistance of Interpol to combat the crime, and closely liaise with stakeholders including the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer and the Hong Kong Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre to monitor the local situation. Police will continue to promote cyber security awareness across the community through various channels.

Some perpetrators took advantage of the anonymous nature of Bitcoin to commit crimes, such as demanding Bitcoin as ransom in ransomware blackmail and money laundering cases. Police's Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau has set up a dedicated unit to monitor the crimes involving Bitcoin and enhance the Force's professional ability in handling these cases.

"I wish to take this opportunity to remind members of the public that when making investment or dealing in Bitcoin, do assess the risks and remain vigilant," said Mr Lo.

Burglary, drug offences & triad-related crimes

There were 1 872 burglary cases in 2017, a drop of 556 cases when compared with 2016. The number also marked a record low since 1969. Seventy per cent of the cases were committed at domestic premises. Although a decrease was noted for burglaries, Police will continue enforcement actions.

Police recorded 1 553 serious drug cases in 2017, representing a drop of 159 cases (down 9.3 per cent) when compared with 2016. By drug categories, an increase was noted in cases involving cannabis, cocaine and heroin, while cases involving ketamine and "Ice" were registered with a decrease. It was believed that the rise in the number of cases and amount of seizure involving cannabis was driven by a series of intelligence-led operations turning overt in the period.

A decrease was recorded in triad-related crimes, which totalled 1 798 cases, down by 74 cases when compared with 2016. Police mounted a number of large-scale anti-triad operations last year including the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao tripartite joint operation "Thunderbolt 17" resulting in the arrest of 5 439 persons in Hong Kong and the seizure of over HK$18 million of crime proceeds. Police will continue to take intelligence-led operations, stringently combat triad activities, interdict their income sources and confiscate their crime proceeds.

Domestic violence & NEC crimes

There were 1 394 domestic violence (crime) cases in 2017, down by 115 cases when compared with 2016. Police will continue to tackle domestic violence by adopting an inter-departmental and multi-disciplinary co-operative approach.

In 2017, 30 366 persons were arrested for crimes, down by 2 876 persons or 8.7 per cent when compared with 2016.

Among these arrestees, 4 447 were non-ethnic Chinese (NEC) (down 5.4 per cent), 48 per cent of them were residents while non-residents made up 52 per cent. There were 1 542 NEC Form 8 holders arrested for different crimes, a rise of 36 persons (up 2.4 per cent) over 2016.

For NEC arrested persons, they were mainly arrested for shop theft, serious drug offences, wounding and serious assault, and miscellaneous thefts. Police will keep watch on the crime trend involving NECs and take parallel law enforcement actions to interdict illegal immigration.

"The vast majority of the NECs in Hong Kong are law-abiding. Police will continue to encourage police districts to enhance communication and co-operation with the local NEC community to prevent and fight crime together," Mr Lo emphasised.

Commissioner's Operational Priorities

The Commissioner also took the opportunity to introduce the Commissioner's Operational Priorities 2018 which include violent crime; triads, syndicated and organised crime; dangerous drugs; quick cash crime; cyber security and technology crime; public safety; and counter-terrorism.

Regarding counter-terrorism, Mr Lo pointed out that Police have been keeping a close watch on the trend of global and regional terrorist attacks and continuously assessing the terrorist threat to Hong Kong. At present, the terrorist threat level of Hong Kong remains "moderate".

To further strengthen the counter-terrorism capability of Hong Kong, the Government will establish a dedicated unit, namely the Inter-departmental Counter-terrorism Unit (ICTU), comprising Police and five other disciplined services, co-ordinated under the Security Bureau, to refine counter-terrorism strategies, formulate action plans, enhance inter-departmental co-ordination and intelligence gathering, as well as to raise public awareness, so as to ensure the counter-terrorism capability and readiness of Hong Kong. ICTU is expected to be in operation from April 2018.

Furthermore, Police have been endeavouring in conducting counter-terrorism drills with relevant government departments and organisations. Twenty-one large-scale drills were conducted in 2017 to test the counter-terrorism response and co-ordination capabilities of the parties concerned.

"The Force will continue with our efforts on counter-terrorism and support the work of ICTU," Mr Lo said.

Conclusion

To conclude, the overall crime rate of Hong Kong remains at a satisfactory level. This demonstrates that Hong Kong is indeed one of the safest and most stable societies in the world. In the past year, apart from crime fighting, the Force also succeeded in many large-scale events.

"I wish to thank all my Police colleagues for fulfilling their duties with dedication given all the difficulties and challenges which we faced together. As their Commissioner, I feel proud of their excellent performance and loyalty," Mr Lo said.

"All these achievements shall be attributed to the concerted efforts of all the Force members and support of the law-abiding citizens. Despite the satisfactory law and order situation, my team and I shall not slacken our efforts but always remain vigilant in time of peace," he said.