Number of people trying to smuggle weapons through Hong Kong airport triples

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 July, 2014, 4:30am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 July, 2014, 11:56am

The number of passengers trying to take weapons, mainly stun guns, through Chek Lap Kok more than tripled last year, amid an overall increase in crime at the airport.

The total number of crimes reported at the airport district jumped by more than a third, to 1,003 incidents last year from 750 in 2012. In 2011, there were 860 crimes.

The latest figures have sparked renewed concerns about the standards of aviation security at Hong Kong International Airport which suffered last year when Sidney Chau Foo-cheong, the former head of the Aviation Security Company (Avseco), was fired following allegations of corruption.

It also comes as airlines are introducing extra screening measures for all US-bound flights. Passengers flying to the US have been warned that electronic devices - such as mobile phones, tablets, e-book readers and laptops - must be charged and working or passengers risk being refused permission to fly.

The jump in crime at the airport was mainly due to a significant rise in the number of passengers attempting to carry weapons and ammunition through security control points.

Last year there were a total of 307 cases of people trying to smuggle weapons onto flights, with 261 of these involving stun guns. In 2012, there were 93 total incidents and 73 in 2011.

The number of serious narcotics offences more than doubled to 16 in 2013, compared with six in 2012.

As well, wounding and serious assault cases also increased to 18 cases reported last year from 10 in 2012.

The figures were released yesterday in response to questions from tourism-sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing, following recent reports that airport security staff had failed to detect banned items during routine checks.

Several months ago, Yiu wrote to the Airport Authority, Avseco's majority shareholder, raising his concerns about the lax attitude of frontline officers. The authority said they had disciplinary procedures for staff members who failed to perform their duties.

"I will follow up on the airport security issues with the Transport Bureau," Yiu said yesterday, referring to the body which oversees the Airport Authority.

The Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in a written reply to Yiu, said Avseco would address staff performance issues by boosting training and conducting internal security tests.

Calvin Huen, senior manager with Avseco's operations support department, said the company had no comment to make on the increase in crime at the airport as Avseco - which has about 3,800 employees - is "merely a security service provider".

There were a total of 153 complaints against staff last year, down slightly from 159 in 2012.