Hong Kong police chief vows zero tolerance for misconduct in force amid sharp rise in officer arrests
Integrity is core value, he says, and 99.9 per cent very committed to their duties
Hong Kong’s police chief vowed zero tolerance for any code of conduct violations by officers as the integrity of the 30,000-member force was called into question with a rising number of arrests in its ranks.
Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung also pledged transparency in disclosing information to the public relating to such misconduct or crimes.
Lo’s strong remarks came after the Post reported last week that an increasing number of police officers had been arrested. In the first half of the year, one Hong Kong policeman was arrested on average per week for a crime of some kind.
They also followed news on Friday that a female model complained about a police constable harassing her after taking her mobile number during an identity check. She claimed the officer had called her and sent her WhatsApp messages, saying he liked her a lot and wanted to develop a relationship.
Police are investigating the case, and the constable is now on leave.
Addressing the Post’s question about the force’s challenges, Lo stressed on Saturday that integrity was a core value. He reiterated four times it would not tolerate any officers committing a crime or a disciplinary offence.
“We take it very seriously,” the police chief said. “We uphold the highest standard of integrity within the force. We will not tolerate any officers committing any offence.”
Lo also hoped the public would understand what was happening from an “objective” angle when reading the news.
“Whenever there is a report and a reasonable suspicion about any officer committing a criminal or disciplinary offence, we will take action,” he said, explaining that such matters making the news meant the force was “seriously” addressing them.
The higher number of arrests came despite the force setting up a steering committee in February last year to strengthen integrity management. In all of 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 (US$4) of goods, indecently assaulting underage girls, taking money from a prostitute, attempted burglary, and stealing and replacing 670,000 yuan (US$103,000) cash evidence with fake banknotes.
Lo said the steering committee was focusing on education, supervision, investigation, punishment and rehabilitation to boost integrity.
“I hope the public would appreciate that apart from this very small minority of officers committing offences, 99.9 per cent of my officers are very committed to their duties and are working very hard every day to serve the public,” he added.