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Hong Kong police

Integrity of Hong Kong police must not be compromised

Those who join the ranks should maintain the highest standards and confidence in the force, not add to the list of officers arrested

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 June, 2018, 5:42am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 June, 2018, 5:42am

Hong Kong’s law and order lies primarily in the integrity of those tasked to maintain it. The police, being the largest disciplinary force in the city, are expected to uphold the highest standards at all times. But as in other sizeable organisations, there exists bad apples and it is good to learn that steps are being taken to strengthen integrity training in the ranks.

For a 30,000-strong establishment, the arrests of dozens of officers for criminal offences a year may not seem alarming. The number in the first half of the year reached 26, compared to 29 in the whole of 2017. As small as the number may be, individual officers becoming criminal suspects is hardly something we should tolerate.

Some of the alleged offences, such as indecently assaulting underage girls, taking money from a prostitute, attempted burglary, and stealing and replacing 670,000 yuan (HK$812,000) in cash evidence with fake notes, are of serious nature. They sit oddly with the claim that our police force is Asia’s finest.

The circumstances of each case may be different.

Hong Kong police inspector arrested over disappearance of 670,000 yuan cash evidence

The force is understood to have analysed the types of officers who may be prone to go astray. But those arrested come from different backgrounds and the analysis did not reach any firm conclusions. Nonetheless, a police source said some officers may have disregarded their pride, value and passion, which “in their eyes had gradually been tarnished and wiped away in recent years”.

Whether this is the case remains to be seen. If previous arrest figures are any reference, it seems the issue of officers breaking the law is a long-standing one. Apart from instilling a greater sense of pride with more staff training, it would also do well for the police to look wider and deeper into the reasons behind the incidents.

The divide arising from the Occupy protests in 2014 has yet to be bridged, so does public trust in the police. But even if staff morale and pride have been dampened, it is no excuse to break the law. Those who join the police must realise that how they conduct themselves, be it on or off duty, will directly affect the integrity and reputation of the team. Anything short of the highest standards can damage confidence in the police.