Concerns raised as 26 Hong Kong police officers arrested in 2018 so far
Force insider tells the Post that a lack of professional pride in the force could partly be to blame for the alarming figure
At least 26 Hong Kong police officers have been arrested for various crimes in the first half of this year, compared to 29 arrests in the whole of 2017, with the force attributing the embarrassing situation partly to a lack of professional pride.
The increasing number of arrests came despite the force setting up a special working group to strengthen integrity management in February last year when Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung was bombarded by questions about the integrity of the 30,000-member force. In 2016, some 43 officers were arrested.
The offending officers this year ranged in rank from constable to superintendent. The alleged offences included shoplifting HK$32 in goods, indecently assaulting underage girls, taking money from a prostitute, attempted burglary and stealing and replacing 670,000 yuan cash evidence with fake banknotes.
“Some officers who were caught might have disregarded their pride, value and passion, which in their eyes had gradually been tarnished and wiped away in recent years,” a senior police source said. “They easily succumbed to temptation and broke the law.”
“But of course this is not an excuse to commit crimes. The top brass is heartbroken and is thinking of ways to control the situation.”
The force had earlier conducted an analysis to map out the types of officers who were more prone to go astray, the insider added. But police could not reach any firm conclusions as the arrested officers hailed from a range of backgrounds.
He said the working group would reinforce current measures and had alerted the entire force to point out colleagues’ aberrant behaviour as well as show care and offer help to stop any misconduct.
“The measures would be more value-driven. Increasing their professional pride is important. Being a policeman should be more than a job or an occupation.
“They should put the organisation onto their shoulders and bear in mind that their own behaviour could deeply affect the image of the force.”
Two weeks ago a force-wide film contest called “My Police Story” was launched. It aimed to boost professional pride by sharing officers’ own stories and highlighting the virtues of honour, duty and loyalty.
The source added the top brass would take stringent disciplinary action against officers whose integrity was in doubt. In the worst scenario, they could face dismissal and compulsory retirement.
The latest arrest saw a 41-year-old inspector, who is also an assistant subdivisional commander at Ta Kwu Ling police station, arrested last Friday on suspicion of stealing 670,000 yuan from a police station and replacing it with fake banknotes.
The Post understands he had racked up large gambling debts and attempted suicide earlier at his home inside the disciplined services quarters.
Last Wednesday, a 32-year-old constable attached to the Narcotics Bureau was arrested for indecently assaulting two girls he had met online. The case was suspected to involve compensated dating. Both girls were under 16.
Earlier this year, Lo said the force attached high attention to officers’ conduct but the number of arrests was comparatively tiny, as it accounted for less than 0.1 per cent of the entire force.
“It means that 99.9 per cent of our officers still stand fast in their duties and protect the security of Hong Kong,” he said.