Surge in gripes against police

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 July, 2011, 12:00am


A police watchdog expressed concerns over the 'shocking' surge in complaints against police officers recorded last year.

According to the latest statistics, the Independent Police Complaints Council reviewed 4,368 complaints against the force, a 44.4 per cent rise on those in 2009.

The complaints involved 7,952 allegations, up 57.3 per cent on previous figures. The majority of the allegations - 3,486 - concerned neglect of duty, a 74.6 per cent rise year-on-year. Some 2,919, or a rise of 50.9 per cent, involved misconduct, improper manners or offensive language.

Ricky Chu Man-kin, secretary general of the council, described the figures as shocking. He said some cases involving officers' behavioural problems could be avoided through better training in communication skills and image improvement.

'Some long-term education should be undertaken within the force to elevate the image of frontline officers in the eyes of the public,' he said. 'Sometimes people complain about misconduct just because they [police officers] are discourteous.'

Complaints of a more serious nature are also on the rise. The number of allegations of assault rose from 436 in 2009 to 578 last year, while allegations of fabrication of evidence surged from 267 to 426.

But Chu said the comparison between the two years' figures did not necessarily point to lower quality of police. Of the 7,952 allegations, only 2,440 were fully investigated, the rest were either withdrawn by the complainants, non-pursuable or informally resolved. Some 267 allegations were finally substantiated, accounting for 13.7 per cent of all the fully investigated cases.

Director of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor Law Yuk-kai said the council had handled more allegations against police in the past three years and it was a worrying trend. He also urged for the setting up of an independent investigation body.

Under the present system complaints are first made to the Complaints Against Police Office within the force. A police spokesman said it had received 3,320 complaints in 2010, representing a 'noticeable decrease' of 21.6 per cent on 2009. Cases reported by the council were only those it had endorsed after police investigation and included cases received in preceding years.