Police chief backs move not to shoot

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 October, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 October, 2002, 12:00am

Police Commissioner Tsang Yam-pui yesterday defended a decision by officers to not open fire on a gang of armed robbers on Saturday.

Up to seven robbers - one armed with what appeared to be a pistol and the others with knives - escaped with equipment worth $7 million after raiding a computer firm in To Kwa Wan.

The raid was witnessed by a constable sent to the scene and several other officers arrived as the robbers were making their escape.

Mr Tsang said he believed the gun used by the robbers was not a fake. He said the circumstances of the case had to be considered before judging the officers' behaviour.

'We can't jump to conclusions,' Mr Tsang said yesterday. 'The most important thing is to see whether the officers reacted suitably at the time.'

Asked if it was a suitable reaction for the police not to have opened fire during Saturday's robbery, Mr Tsang said: 'Sometimes it is. We have to see whether the conflict [opening fire] would harm innocent people in the area.'

The robbery took place at about 1.30pm on the sixth floor of a building in To Kwa Wan Road. About eight workers and a security guard were tied up before the gang ransacked the shop. Nobody was hurt.

Mr Tsang said Hong Kong had recorded just two robberies involving real guns this year and nobody was injured during these incidents. 'This figure remains at a low-level,' he said.

Although the number of robberies had increased, only a few had involved violence, he said.