Convicted police on the rise

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 January, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 January, 1996, 12:00am

THE number of police officers dismissed for criminal offences jumped by nearly 50 per cent last year, while those appearing before disciplinary hearings also climbed.

Official figures obtained by The Sunday Morning Post show that the number removed after a conviction rose from 20 in 1994 to 29 last year.

The number of officers who have been the subject of disciplinary hearings was 150 in 1993, 154 in 1994 and 168 last year. Of those questioned about their conduct last year, 159 were junior officers. The rest were inspectors or above.

Senior police, sensitive about the force's image, suggest the dismissals show a tough line against offenders. Assistant Commissioner (Personnel) Angus Stevenson-Hamilton said: 'I look at that as positive. It means perhaps we are being more successful. We have taken a hard line on gambling, corruption, indebtedness, etc.' Of those dismissed for criminal offences last year, 23 were police constables, three were sergeants and three were inspectors or above.

The number of officers removed following disciplinary offences dropped from 21 to 13.

Requests by the Sunday Morning Post for further details of disciplinary and criminal offences were turned down. Reasons given ranged from manpower shortages to concerns that it would be 'unfair to the officers themselves'.

Police management has been working with the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the Government in a bid to tighten up the force's internal procedures, and believes it can do little more.

Last year, the force began taking recruitment one step further with plans for a new way to screen officers.

A clinical psychologist hoped to build up a behavioural profile of officers who could be expected to lean towards criminal acts rather than pursue promotion.

ICAC Assistant Director (Operations) Daniel Li Ming-chak said: 'Obviously you can't totally eradicate corruption. You have to control it, confine it and have it minimised.' The Director of Police Management and Inspectorate Services, Senior Assistant Commissioner Pedro Ching Kwok-hoo, insisted police were leaving no stone unturned.

'I think it is a bit unfair of the media, trying to give the impression the force is corrupt and that senior management are not doing enough - things like that are not true.

'There are so many distorted facts trying to portray the force as corrupt,' he said.

ICAC figures released last week showed signs corruption in the force may have peaked.

Overall corruption complaints in 1995 fell by 10 per cent with police-related complaints down 16 per cent.