Students were led into bullying, police say
Ninety-nine people, including 35 students, have been arrested in a police operation to tackle crime among young people. Between Monday and yesterday, during the second stage of the operation, which started in July, 57 people were arrested, as officers raided locations in Kowloon and the New Territories.
There were 21 students among the 51 men and six women, aged 13 to 33, with some having triad backgrounds, Superintendent Eddy Choy Wai-fu from New Territories North police regional headquarters said.
They were arrested for trafficking in dangerous drugs, criminal intimidation, disorderly conduct and triad-related offences, Choy added. The youngest, a 13-year-old, was arrested for a triad-related offence.
Police seized a small amount of ketamine and weapons such as beef knives and metal pipes, Choy said.
He said the arrested students had been led by older people into acts of bullying on the streets, and were not linked to any more serious crimes.
Five men, aged 16 to 20, arrested this week were charged yesterday with drug-related offences and will appear in Tuen Mun court today.
All the others arrested were released on bail.
Choy said that another 42 people were arrested for crimes including assault, trafficking in dangerous drugs and unlawful assembly during the summer holiday in the first stage of Operation Megastrength. Officers turned out more than 900 times to conduct inspections on establishments frequented by teenagers, such as amusement-game centres and internet cafes, based on intelligence and evidence collected in Tuen Mun and Tin Shui Wai.
Choy said drug-related crime involving juveniles was not serious in New Territories North, with 138 drug-related cases involving juveniles in the region in the first two quarters of the year. The figures for the whole of last year and 2008 were 274 and 348 respectively.
'In this operation we've seen a lot of juveniles who like to linger at internet cafes, TV game centres and parks at night, which was exactly when triads went out to recruit members. They might also lure them into taking or selling drugs,' Choy said.
More than one-third of those arrested in the second stage of the operation were students, but Choy said there was no significant increase in triad-related crimes among teenagers, either in schools or in the community. The overall juvenile crime rate also showed no increase.
Choy said police had held 78 meetings with school social workers and parent-teacher associations to discuss crime-prevention initiatives and distributed more than 13,000 leaflets at locations including border control points, shopping arcades, amusement-game centres and internet cafes over the past year.
Police will continue to step up enforcement and work closely with schools, parent-teacher associations, youth groups, the Social Welfare Department and the Education Bureau to combat youth crime. Activities will also be organised to promote civic-mindedness and youth awareness of crime prevention, he said.