Journalists, police spar over crime publicity

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 November, 2011, 12:00am


The police are patting themselves on the back for doing more to inform the public about crime - but news organisations say too much is still being held back.

Under pressure to be more open after being accused of withholding details of serial sex attacks, the force said it had handed out an average of 270 crime news items to the media every day since it introduced an improved information-release system in the middle of last month.

Of those, 42 per cent had been provided within half an hour of the case being reported and 80 per cent within an hour, assistant commissioner (support) Winnie Chiu Wai-yin told the Legislative Council's security panel yesterday.

But Journalists Association chairwoman Mak Yin-ting said the police had withheld 80 per cent of the reported cases. 'According to my understanding, the police have released only 20 per cent of the cases they have received,' Mak said.

News Executives' Association chairman Ronald Chiu Ying-chun said the released information was too brief to help the media report on the crimes. Legislators voiced concerns that the delayed release of crime details might undermine public safety.

However, undersecretary for security Lai Tung-kwok said the government had to uphold victims' privacy rights and ensure the police could conduct operations smoothly.