Crime map reveals the city's black spots

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 December, 2007, 12:00am

Triads, troubled youth, vulnerable old people, drugs and prostitutes are rife in Yuen Long, where serious crime is at its highest in Hong Kong.

The area sits on the periphery of the city - both physically and socially - and has the highest rates of serious crime.

This is one of the many findings from a detailed crime map, drawn from police figures obtained by the Sunday Morning Post.

Citywide, police recorded 81,125 crimes last year, up 4.7 per cent on 2005.

Mong Kok, one of the most densely populated places on Earth, recorded the most offences last year - 6,131, just ahead of Yuen Long's 5,989.

A breakdown of the crimes shows that drug-related offences pushed Mong Kok into the lead but Yuen Long had the most instances of rape, wounding and stealing. Next was Sham Shui Po with 5,703, just ahead of Kwun Tong with 5,602 and Wan Chai's 5,136.

On Hong Kong Island, there were no murders in Central in either 2005 or last year, but 39 cases of rape and indecent assault last year. In Western, which includes the south of the island, there were two murders in 2005 but none last year, and 1,740 thefts last year, when Wan Chai had the most thefts on the island, 3,107. It also had the most woundings or serious assaults on the island, 558.

The most crime-ridden area of the island last year was Eastern District, with 79 rapes and 499 instances of wounding or serious assault. On Lantau, there were 15 rapes, 141 serious assaults, 415 thefts and two drugs offences last year.

The highest number of drug-related offences occurred in Yau Tsim police district, with 479 cases last year. Yuen Long had the most rapes and indecent assaults, with 108 cases - up from 101 in 2005. There were also 732 woundings and serious assaults in the district - the most in the city.

Yuen Long experienced three murders last year, while thefts rose from 2,538 to 2,726, the second highest in Hong Kong's police districts.

Yuen Long district had a population of 534,192, according to the 2006 by-census.

About 300,000 of them live in the so-called 'city of sadness', Tin Shui Wai. Most would at best be classified as underprivileged.

The town has been the scene of some of the city's most high-profile tragedies, including a number of murder-suicides.

But the crime rate in his area does not dissuade Chow Wing-kan, a Yuen Long district councillor and member of the area's Fight Crime Committee, from the view that crime will eventually come down.

Mr Chow believes initiatives introduced by police will eventually lead to solutions.

'Of course, it isn't easy, but there are pinpoint strategies being introduced that we believe will see crime fall slowly,' he said.

But when the district sees some progress, another problem appears. Where once it was mainland immigrants adding to the crime rates, now there were problems with the soaring number of illegal immigrants of South Asian origin, he added.

'But we have teams now that are learning their languages so we can reduce these crimes,' he said.

Mr Chow does not shy away from the statistics. Most of the triad-related crime, for example, is perpetrated by the two biggest societies in Hong Kong, Wo Sing Wo and 14K.

Police are now targeting mahjong schools and increasing bar searches to limit triad activity.

But the area is targeting prevention as well as arrests. One initiative is aimed at the elderly, who are often poorly educated, and warns them about deception.

The police also have special teams targeting narcotics and youth crime, and inroads are being made.

'We don't worry if the figures go up very fast but we hope they will stay at this level and start to go down with the strategies we are bringing in,' Mr Chow said.