Police are ordered to report verbal abuse against them
Hong Kong's frontline police officers have been ordered to report all verbal abuse directed at them while on patrol so the force can decide whether a law to tackle the problem is needed.
The order was issued late last month, soon after Police Commissioner Tsang Yam-pui said legislation to punish people who verbally abused officers would be considered.
Mr Tsang said that as social and personal pressure had risen during the economic downturn, more people were using foul language and violence when confronted by police.
Police officers are now required to report to regional command and control centres via radio any 'non-criminal abusive behaviour' they encounter on duty.
The centres will then compile reports on such cases.
Such behaviour is understood to include foul language and rude gestures in response to officers doing their job.
It also includes the incitement of others to resist police.
Police officers are also required to file a report if they are asked to help other disciplined services officers - such as immigration or customs officers - who are subjected to similar kinds of non-criminal abusive behaviour while on duty.
A police spokeswoman said the increase in anti-social behaviour and offences meant there was a need to conduct detailed analysis and review the situation and statistics.
A police source said the filing of such reports was aimed only at collecting data as a reference for study - not so action could be taken against abusers.
Legislator Lau Kong-wah said that while police had the right to collect such statistics, abusers had a right to know records were being kept.
Local Inspectors' Association chairman Tony Liu Kit-ming welcomed the move, saying it would allow police to see the true picture of the problem, which he said could affect law-enforcement efficiency.
Junior Police Officers' Association chairman Lau Kam-wah also supported the measure. 'Officers are encountering this problem every day. A driver being issued with a fixed-penalty ticket will swear at the officer. But the police officers are just doing their job,' he said.