More police to combat hi-tech criminals

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 10:54pm


Extra officers are to be drafted in to fight a rising tide of online crime as police prepare to open a cybersecurity centre by the end of the year.

Police recorded 1,299 technology-related crimes in the first half of this year, a 41 per cent rise year-on-year. Victims lost HK$64 million - up from HK$4 million.

Commercial e-mail scams accounted for 169 of the crimes, a five-fold increase on the 29 in the same period last year. The number of computer hacking cases increased from 191 to 425.

A dedicated anti-cyberfraud team was created in March and has since arrested eight people suspected of carrying out e-mail scams and frozen HK$17 million in bank accounts.

Twenty-seven officers will work in to the centre, including one chief inspector and three senior inspectors.

The overall number of crimes remained steady, at 37,584 up from 37,443 in the first half of last year.

Lo Wai-chung, the force's director of crime and security, said at its half-year crime review that advances in technology had made it more attractive for criminals to operate online.

'Figures on some 'traditional crimes' are dropping. In this age of technological advancement, criminals are getting smarter. They found it is safer for them to conceal their identity and commit crime in the cyber world than robbing [people] in the real world,' he said.

Police were criticised last month for using canisters with more powerful jets to douse protesters with pepper spray during President Hu Jintao's visit. Paul Hung Hak-wai, director of operations, said police 'gradually advanced' to the more powerful canisters after normal ones failed to stop protesters pushing a barricade.

On another issue, Hung said police were sharing more information with the media, with details of 300 crimes released daily, on average.

Lo confirmed that Hong Kong police had exchanged intelligence with their Australian counterparts over a HK$4 billion drug bust in Sydney that led to the arrest of seven people - four of them from Hong Kong. He said a Hong Kong syndicate was not involved and the drug did not pass through Hong Kong.