Economic meltdown takes its toll on police

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2010, 12:00am

Sixteen police officers were placed on a watch list in the second half of last year owing to concern over unmanageable debts, and the total number of officers in financial trouble increased slightly, according to government figures.

An officer is regarded as having unmanageable debts if he or she has difficulties repaying owed money.

The number of officers with unmanageable debts had been steadily falling, from 114 in the first half of 2007 down to 92 in the first half of last year.

However, the number increased from 92 in the first six months to 100 in the second half, the Security Bureau told lawmakers in a paper yesterday.

Among the 100 cases of unmanageable debt, 69 arose from problems of family members and relatives, 12 involved overspending, six were related to investment failures, five to important life events and three to gambling.

The chairman of the Junior Police Officers' Association, Chung Kam-wa, said the increase might be related to the global financial crisis last year.

'Spouses and family members of officers might be affected by the financial crisis, such as spouses being sacked, causing family financial problems,' Chung said.

There was also an increase in officers put on the watch list - from six in the first half of last year to 16 in the second half. Eight officers in debt were removed from the watch list during the second half.

Sixty-eight officers received notices of tax recovery last year involving a total of HK$485,967, compared with 58 officers in 2008 who owed HK$626,363 in tax.

No police officers with unmanageable debts who had received notice of tax recovery were repaying salary advances or loans from the Police Welfare Fund.

Financial blues

A total of 100 police officers were in financial trouble in the second half of last year, compared with 92 in the first half of the year

In 2008, 58 officers owed taxes amounting to, in HK dollars, $626,000

Last year, 68 officers owed taxes amounting to: $485,000