Police tighten their grip on bail money

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 January, 2007, 12:00am

Disclosure follows a Post report of cash stolen by staff

The police have tightened procedures to prevent officers from stealing bail money.

The disclosure comes after the South China Morning Post reported last week of 137 cases of bail money totalling HK$438,345 being embezzled by police staff in the 2005-06 financial year.

The police have so far paid a total of HK$35,000 in compensation to four people who had posted bail.

The thefts shocked Democratic Party legislator and deputy chairman of Legco's security panel James To Kun-sun, who asked if it was a widespread problem within the force.

A police spokeswoman said all 137 cases were committed by one constable, who had falsified records to steal the money.

The cases happened between September 2004 and November 2005. The constable, who had served for 18 years, managed to fool his supervisors and they had trusted him without keeping written records. He was jailed for 18 months in May.

The spokeswoman said the force had conducted an inquiry into supervisory accountability in the wake of the thefts.

Two of the constable's supervisors were disciplined as a result.

'A revised set of administrative instructions were formulated and published in mid-2006 designed to prevent any recurrence,' she said.

The spokeswoman refused to give details of the new procedures, adding that she believed they could effectively plug the loopholes.

Meanwhile, police have reported the loss of six mobile phones seized during investigations. They were worth HK$14,910.

A police source said an officer had forgotten to take the exhibits at the end of an operation.

'We have thoroughly reviewed the circumstances and have determined the case was purely due to the negligence of one officer rather than any procedural deficiencies,' the spokeswoman said.

The officer concerned had been disciplined, the source added.