A policeman based at Hong Kong International Airport who allegedly snapped photos up the skirt of a sleeping Cathay Pacific flight attendant on a bus was released on bail yesterday.
The 38-year-old off-duty officer, who the force only identified as Cheung, was arrested on Friday on suspicion of outraging public decency.
The Law Reform Commission recently proposed that the taking of such photos be classified as a form of sexual assault to better protect victims.
The incident occurred on an E22 airport bus travelling from Lam Tin on Friday morning. The flight attendant boarded the bus before 7am and sat next to the police officer on the upper deck.
She later fell asleep. When she woke up near the Tsing Ma Bridge, she found Cheung directing his mobile phone's camera against her skirt.
Cheung did not tell the woman he was a policeman at that time, and explained he was "taking pictures of the scene", and had "unintentionally photographed her legs".
Witnesses said the two argued all the way to the airport.
The flight attendant reported the incident to police as soon as she got off the bus at the airport.
Police later found that Cheung, who has been with the force for 20 years, had deleted the photos and arrested him. On Friday evening, police seized two computers from his home in Telford Gardens, Kowloon Bay.
Citybus confirmed that an incident had taken place, saying the flight attendant told the driver to continue the journey so as not to disturb other passengers.
Cheung has been ordered to report to police next month.
There have been several reports of policemen committing similar sexual offences over the past two years.
In August last year, a former inspector, 44, was found hiding a mirror in a shopping basket in a cosmetic shop in order to look up women's skirts.
In May 2010, a senior inspector aged 47 was arrested for taking photos up the dress of a 20-year-old woman on the MTR.
Earlier this month, police noted a surge in such incidents on trains, with the monthly average of six cases rising to nine from January to August this year.
At present, taking photographs up women's skirts is not treated as indecent assault. Offenders can only be convicted indirectly - for example, through loitering laws or using a computer with dishonest intent.
The Law Reform Commission advised two weeks ago that the offence should be upgraded to sexual assault.
This would also allow perpetrators to be included in the sexual offenders' register.
A public consultation on its proposal to overhaul legislation covering sex offences is being conducted until December 31.