Hong Kong and mainland China police should join forces to beat phone scammers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 October, 2015, 1:42am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 October, 2015, 9:05am

When it comes to law and order, Hong Kong is the envy of the world. As the police force boasts on its website, there are no no-go areas in the city and the feeling of safety on the streets is something of which we are justifiably proud. This is also reflected in the low crime rate in recent years. Our reputation as one of the safest world cities is not unfounded.

But there is still room for the police to do more, as shown in an annual cross-border crackdown on organised crime. The Hong Kong police raided more than 7,500 premises between June and September and arrested 4,343 people for offences such as drug trafficking, gambling and illegal lending. Officers confiscated HK$102 million in cash, contraband and illegal drugs and froze more than HK$2.1 million in crime proceeds.

Credit goes to the security authorities of Guangdong, Macau and Hong Kong for their anti-crime efforts. Codenamed Thunderbolt 15, the joint campaign began in 2000 and became an annual exercise. A total of 51,000 suspects were netted in the region during the three-month operation this year.

Technological advancement means criminal activities have transcended physical boundaries and become more sophisticated. Growing social and economic integration in the region also makes crime prevention and investigation more difficult. The operation would not have been a success without effective intelligence sharing and cooperation among the authorities. It is also a reminder that beneath our safe city lies a world of illicit activities.

The cross-border collaboration should not just stop here. The recent spate of phone scams saw wealthy business people and vulnerable elderly falling prey to fraudsters posing as mainland officials. More than HK$100 million has been fleeced in just months. Authorities on both sides of the border have since stepped up intelligence exchanges, but the syndicates remain just as active. More vigorous efforts are needed to crack down on the scammers.