Cases of domestic violence dropped 3.9 per cent in the first half of this year, the first decline ever recorded in that category in Hong Kong. Police handled 3,557 cases of domestic violence - 1,147 of them categorised as crimes - from January to June, police director of crime and security John Lee Ka-chiu said. That was down 3.9 per cent from 3,702, of which 1,253 were crime cases, in the same period last year, he said. 'It is the first time that we have seen a decreasing number of domestic violence cases,' Mr Lee said. 'We hope that it will continue.' He said it was difficult to know why domestic violence cases had declined. 'A new set of guidelines for frontline officers handling cases of abuse was issued in late 2006, so that victims got more counselling services after reporting to us. 'Maybe that is why the seriousness and the recurrence of the crime decreased,' Mr Lee said. The trend seemed different in February, when Commissioner of Police Tang King-shing reported 7,509 cases of domestic violence for all of last year - a 60 per cent increase over 2006. On average, 20 family abuse reports were being filed daily, he said. 'It is not the effort of the police alone, but social workers, welfare groups as well as the community,' Mr Lee said. 'We hope we can all work together to fight against domestic violence.' Paulina Kwok Chi-ying, supervisor with Caritas Family Crisis Support Centre, said she was glad to see a drop in domestic violence cases. 'I hope the situation will keep improving,' she said. 'If police can refer families suffering from domestic violence to social workers as soon as it spots the problem, it can definitely prevent the situation from worsening.' Against Child Abuse director Priscilla Lui Tsang Sun-kai said family violence was still widespread despite the slight drop in police figures. She urged the government to put more preventive measures in place. Margaret Wong Fung-yee, executive director of the Jockey Club Harmony Link Domestic Violence Prevention Centre, praised police for doing better in handling domestic violence cases, but urged the government to give more funding to NGOs working in that field.