'Quick cash' crimes on increase
Crime is on the rise and detection rates have slumped, prompting police to call for greater public co-operation.
While certain serious crimes showed a slight decrease, the force's Director of Crime and Security, Lau Chun-sing, said so-called 'quick cash' crimes such as pickpocketing, blackmail and criminal intimidation - fuelled by the economic downturn - could continue to increase in the coming months.
In the first seven months of the year, criminal intimidation was up 66 per cent on the same period last year, pickpocketing was up 24 per cent, snatching was up 19 per cent and miscellaneous thefts were up 13.5 per cent.
Assaults and woundings were up 8.1 per cent.
Computer crime has soared from just 25 reported cases in 1997 to 149 so far this year, leading to a force-wide initiative to tackle the problem.
The overall crime rate for the first seven months of the year is up 9.2 per cent on the same period last year and detection rates have slumped by 10.6 per cent over the same period.
Despite the figures, Mr Lau insisted the SAR remained one of the world's safest places.
The latest statistics had to be compared with those for 1997 and 1998, which placed the crime rate at its lowest in 20 years.
'The police alone will not be able to effectively tackle crime. We need the public to assist us in reporting crime and providing evidence,' he said yesterday.
Mr Lau predicted the crime rate would increase by 10 per cent this year.
He claimed the drop in detection rates was due to difficulties in getting evidence to arrest perpetrators of 'quick cash' crimes.
Murders dropped by 12 per cent on the first seven months of 1998.
The number of rapes remained the same, while serious drug offences are down.