Police will increase cross-border liaison to help curb rise in crimes committed by visitors

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 January, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 January, 2002, 12:00am

Police will step up liaison with mainland law enforcers after a 23 per cent surge in the number of crimes committed by mainland visitors last year, the Police Commissioner said yesterday.

Tsang Yam-pui reported a drop of 5.5 per cent in overall crime last year compared with 2000, although there was a sharp rise in bank robberies and murders.

Mr Tsang said crimes committed by holders of two-way permits or mainland passports increased by 23.9 per cent - from 1,021 in 2000 to 1,265 last year. Most were passport-related offences or cases of theft or fraud.

The number of female illegal immigrants from the mainland arrested for vice activities soared from 279 in 2000 to 1,357 last year. Mr Tsang attributing the figure to more police raids.

He said the number of illegal immigrants arrested for other crimes like robbery and burglary had dropped from 1,033 to 999.

Hong Kong's most wanted man, Kwai Ping-hung - who is on the run suspected of robbing a jewellery shop in Mongkok in June and wanted for a shootout in Kowloon City in May when two officers were injured - is believed to have recruited mainlanders to his gang.

The total number of crimes last year was 73,008 - 5.5 per cent lower than the record of 2000.

Legislators who were briefed about the crime trends yesterday were concerned at the surge in mainland offenders and whether the police would step up enforcement action.

They were also worried about two other shootout cases in which two men died: Constable Leung Shing-yan in March in Tsuen Wan, and Hang Seng Bank security guard Zafar Iqbal Khan in December in the same district.

Mr Tsang said investigations into both cases were going well, although no one had been arrested. 'You know, sometimes whether a case can be solved or not has to depend on luck,' he said.

But the Commissioner said the number of genuine firearms seized last year dropped from 21 in 2000 to 14, and the number of violent crimes had also dropped by 8.5 per cent, to the lowest point in 27 years.

He said maintaining a strong visible uniformed presence on the streets and further improving liaison with mainland and overseas law enforcers to combat cross-border crimes would be among his priorities this year.

While the number of bank robberies doubled from 18 in 2000 to 36 last year, Mr Tsang said 32 cases had been solved and nine culprits, including five repeat offenders, arrested.

Mr Tsang said he was concerned about the rise in the number of homicides, from 43 in 2000 to 66 last year.

Twenty-eight of the 66 cases related to domestic disputes prompted by financial hardship or love affairs. In half the cases the killers took their own lives.

Nine children aged under 12 were killed, compared with three in 2000.

'This increasing number reflected a social problem,' Mr Tsang said, adding the Fight Crime Committee would be asked to follow up on the issue.

Mr Tsang also reported a 17-fold surge in the number of fraud cases relating to bankruptcy - up from 11 in 2000 to 192 last year. He said the relevant departments and organisations were working on the problem.