Police add salt to wound of good citizens

Co-opting the public to help stop runaway drivers is a dubious practice; to then threaten to charge these people with driving offences is farce

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 2:07am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 2:07am

The first priority of police work is to ensure public safety. Catching suspects is important, but must not be done by endangering people’s lives.

However, police chief Stephen Lo Wai-chung and some of his officers don’t seem to understand that. When asked about a February 11 incident – dubbed the human shields accident by the media – in which four people were hurt including an officer, Lo obfuscated and dug an even bigger hole for himself and the police force.

The driver of the fleeing vehicle and its passenger were killed. Drivers of the other cars involved were apparently told to slow down to try to block the suspects’ car. Having been injured because they followed police instructions to help stop a crime in progress, the drivers have been sent notices warning they may be prosecuted.

Hong Kong police chief says issuing prosecution notices to people ‘used as human shields’ is standard procedure

Police have created this dangerous farce, and all Lo could say was that the issuance of the notices was standard procedure and it didn’t mean they would be prosecuted. What? If they are to be charged, police can kiss good community relations goodbye, not to say the absurdity and injustice of it all. But if everyone thinks they won’t be charged, why send those notices and cause people anxiety for being good citizens?

Considering there had already been a similar outcry in 2009, the responses of Lo and the force are just pitiful. Back then officers used three taxis, a truck and a private car to form a roadblock in Kwun Tong to stop more than a dozen cars racing illegally. The resultant pile-up caused injury to eight people.

The then police commissioner, Tang King-shing, apologised for the incident and promised a review of procedures under similar situations.

Unlike Tang, Lo has so far declined to apologise. He has also refused to say whether police would stop using the human roadblock tactic. Instead, he said a review committee would examine police guidelines on stopping vehicles. Weren’t the police supposed to have done that in 2009? He also said the Coroner’s Court could “give instructions” to officers in future. So police work now relies on the coroner.

You may be prosecuted, Hong Kong police tell injured people they ‘used as human shield’

As a driver, I have previously received warning notices about possible prosecution involving traffic accidents. I know police routinely send them out even when there is practically no chance of proceeding with a charge.

Isn’t it time to overhaul this silly but highly disturbing “standard practice”?