Rise in murder rate played down

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 November, 2008, 12:00am

Homicides were up in the first 10 months of this year, but the security chief says there is nothing to be alarmed about.

There were 34 cases from January to October, up from 21 cases for the same period last year. But the overall crime rate has dropped by 2.5 cent and Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong, secretary for security, said the rate 'was very stable'.

Police handled 64,257 crimes during the period - down from 66,955 last year. The number of violent crimes was also down to 12,028 cases from 12,376 or 2.8 per cent.

Mr Lee rebuffed fears that the city had become more dangerous, saying last year's homicide figure was the lowest in 30 years.

'We can't take only one year as the base figure,' Mr Lee said, adding the 10-year average was 45 homicides.

He said the situation was 'not really alarming compared to the annual figure of the past 10 years'.

Of the 34 cases, 31 had been solved and none involved triad operations, he said. There were also more bank robberies, robberies with pistol-like objects, burglaries, woundings, shop thefts and triad-related crimes.

The security minister said he did not expect the crime rate to get worse given the economic downturn, but he said police would stay alert.

Serious drug offences had also increased over the period, Mr Lee said. Heroin seizures had risen to 49kg from 35kg for last year and ketamine was up to 106kg from 81kg.

But seizures of cannabis, cocaine, Ice and Ecstasy had dropped by at least half, compared with the same period last year.

The Security Bureau would continue to fight drug-related crime, he said, and would implement the recommendations set out by the taskforce on youth drug use.

He said its crime-fighting committee had endorsed measures recommended by the taskforce on youth illicit drug use, including compulsory drug-testing.