Low success in cracking technology crime cases

Lack of co-operation and jurisdiction limitations are hindering investigations, police chief says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 4:42am

The police's success rate in cracking technology crime remains low amid a surge in the number of such cases in the city, the chief of the force says.

The rate of success in solving such crimes was just 15.4 per cent last year, when 3,015 cases were reported - up about 37 per cent from 2011, police commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said.

"Looking back on the past 10 years, the sharp rise [in technology crimes] is very worrying," he said at an annual crime review yesterday. "The rate of increase in the past three years was well above 30 per cent. With such exponential growth, we are seeing major challenges ahead."

Tsang attributed the low detection rate to difficulties in investigations. Some cases were impossible to pursue as internet service providers refused to disclose suspicious web addresses, while officers faced jurisdiction limitations in cases where foreign countries were involved, he said.

Commercial e-mail scams accounted for 430 cases last year, up about 177 per cent from the year before. Money lost in these scams amounted to nearly HK$180 million, compared with HK$49 million in 2011.

Tsang pointed to the growing internet savvy of the population and the prevalence of smartphones in Hong Kong as factors behind the surge in technology crime cases.

He said the police force would ensure that its officers brushed up on their investigative and forensic skills to tackle online breaches of the law.

Other crimes on the rise included homicide, rape, deception and serious drug offences, he said, although the overall crime figure last year, at 75,930 cases, was the lowest in a decade.

Some 50 arrests were made among about 7,500 public processions, compared with 444 the previous year, Tsang said. Sixty per cent of the 50 arrests involved assaults and criminal damages.

He stressed that the force remained impartial and politically neutral in facilitating demonstrations and assemblies.

Earlier in the day, Tsang fielded a question from lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung at a special meeting of the Legislative Council security panel to discuss the crime situation.

Leung asked whether the police wasted manpower in deploying more than 100 officers to surround him in Central after a January 1 rally against the chief executive. Leung, who was alone, was arrested for "illegal assembly" that day.

Tsang declined comment on Leung's arrest. He said: "If every Hong Kong resident is responsible and takes part in these activities in accordance with the law, then we would not need to waste that much police power."