Big rise in student indecent assaults

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 January, 2011, 12:00am

The number of reported indecent assaults involving students significantly increased last year, police revealed yesterday.

Statistics show indecent assault cases involving students rose 38 per cent, from 82 cases in 2009 to 113 last year.

This is in contrast to a rise of just 10 per cent to 1,448 in the total number of indecent assaults that police recorded last year, from 1,318 in 2009.

'These indecent assault cases included students touching a body part of other female classmates and some who met their victims in internet chat rooms,' Commissioner of Police Andy Tsang Wai-hung said.

Tsang asked parents to keep a closer watch on their children's internet activities to prevent them getting into trouble through online predators taking advantage of their vulnerabilities.

In a year-end review of crime statistics, police also said 113 indecent assault victims, or 8 per cent, were the classmates of offenders. Victims aged below 15 in such cases also rose 30 per cent to 509 last year from 389 in 2009.

There was a 23 per cent increase in the number of younger suspects aged between 10 and 15, arrested in indecent assault cases, at 168 last year from 137 in 2009. There were 63 indecent assault cases at primary and secondary schools last year, the same as in 2009.

The police also said there was a big increase in indecent assault cases on the MTR last year, a 32 per cent increase to 148 from 112 in 2009.

Tsang said the increase might be related to an MTR awareness programme that began last year, with more people willing to report cases, and officers on patrol in the subway system. He did not rule out the possibility of female-only carriages, which lawmakers have proposed to help avoid such assaults.

The overall law and order situation in the city was stable last year, with a drop of 2.1 per cent in crimes, from 77,630 cases in 2009 to 75,965 in 2010. However, there was a substantial rise in the number of sex-related and quick-cash offences.

In quick-cash crimes there was a 29.4 per cent rise in pickpocketing cases to 1,400; street deception cases were up 13 per cent to 62; and phone trickery cases rose 30 per cent to 2,019.

Tsang said the weak economic situation was not necessarily the reason for the increase of such crimes, but police would make quick-cash crimes a focus.

Police also found an increase in cases of the elderly being abused, 359 last year against 315 in 2009.

Physical abuse was involved in 204 instances and 99 cases, or 28 per cent, involved either deception of or lost property. There were 81 cases involving abuse by domestic helpers on the elderly.

Most of the serious crime offences declined last year, with no armed robberies and just two bank thefts recorded. The number of murder cases dropped 26 per cent to 35 last year, and serious assaults fell 9 per cent to 5,256.

'The force will maintain a strong police presence and carry out intelligence-led operations to target criminals and street gangs,' Tsang said.

The force will recruit 170 inspectors and 750 constables this year to bolster the natural attrition of officers.