Public satisfaction with police falls

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 September, 2009, 12:00am

The police force's public satisfaction rating has decreased by 8 percentage points in the past three months, apparently reflecting outrage over a human roadblock on a Kwun Tong flyover and the revelation of a sexual predator in the force.

The results of a University of Hong Kong survey released yesterday show a drop from a satisfaction rating of 71 per cent in June to 63 per cent this month. Dissatisfaction with the police rose from 7 per cent to 13 per cent over the same period.

The survey was conducted from September 14 to 17, with 1,004 respondents and a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. HKU pollster Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu said the decrease was 'probably due to police handling of illegal car racing and the court ruling on sexual assaults'.

On July 13, police forced three taxis, a truck and a private car to form a roadblock to halt illegal street racers, causing a pile-up. The innocent drivers were still in their seats when six racers ploughed into their vehicles, injuring eight people.

The use of innocent drivers and their vehicles in the roadblock was generally seen as reckless, and sparked outrage. Police Commissioner Tang King-shing apologised the next day for the error in judgment.

Police popularity no doubt took another battering last month, when it was revealed in court that an officer had lured several young women into a police investigation room, where he assaulted them. Leung Lai-chung was sentenced this month to 12 years in jail for raping a teenager and molesting two other teens and a 21-year-old woman. He faces another 11 charges of accessing a computer with dishonest intent, for which he awaits trial.

After Leung's guilty plea, Tang apologised to the victims' families.

In a Legislative Council panel meeting yesterday, Chief Superintendent Mike Demaid-Groves said: 'It is not the police policy to put the public at risk nor to use vehicles belonging to members of the public to block a road in order to intercept illegal road racers. Police will clearly specify this policy in all relevant orders and instructions. A review on use of roadblocks will be completed next month.'

He also suggested amending the Road Traffic Ordinance to make it easier to prosecute road racers, and to increase the penalties.