Handy time for pickpockets
Police are predicting a trouble-free handover, with no upsurge in the falling crime rate. But the Crime Prevention Bureau may increase publicity on personal safety because of the likelihood of crowds attracting pickpockets.
Security Branch figures have crime in the first four months dropping 16.6 per cent to 22,896 cases, from 27,460 in the same period last year.
Last year the overall crime rate was the lowest recorded over the past 15 years.
Assistant Commissioner (Crime) Gordon Fung Siu-yuen said: 'I can't see any special reasons why the rate would increase around the handover period.' While the number of pickpocketing cases has dropped 41.3 per cent in the first four months of this year, police warned the data might not reflect the real situation.
Chief Inspector Bob White said: 'There will be lots of public events around the handover period with crowds gathering, providing cover for offences like theft and pickpocketing.' Mr White said they would remind hotels to relay their messages on personal safety to tourists, popular targets for criminals.
Sources in the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau said the need to deploy extra officers to man their 24-hour control centre on handover day was being assessed.
'There is no indication at this stage that there is a need for special duties,' a source said.
'But we are on the alert and will assess the situation nearer to the handover.' The amount of serious crime this year has declined, with the violent crime rate per 100,000 population dropping from 82 in the first four months of last year to 71 this year.
The biggest rise was seen in the number of homicide cases which more than doubled from 21 to 45.
A rising trend was also recorded in the number of robbery with genuine firearms, robbery with fake pistols and indecent assaults.