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Hong Kong police

Senior Hong Kong police officer forced to retire over Christmas party sexting scandal

Chief Inspector Rajindarpal Singh Pannu kicked out after disciplinary panel upholds complaint he sent sexually explicit photos and video to female colleague

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 July, 2018, 8:32am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 12:08pm

A senior Hong Kong police officer has been forced to retire after being caught up in a sexting scandal.

Chief Inspector Rajindarpal Singh Pannu was kicked off the force after sending photos of male genitalia, and a video of a naked woman, to a female colleague after a Christmas party in 2015.

Winnie Chiu Wai-yin, the deputy chief commissioner, ordered Pannu to quit in May after a disciplinary hearing that lasted more than a year, a police source told the Post.

A compulsory retirement means the 44-year-old, who was last deployed at the traffic investigation and support division in Kowloon East, will still receive his pension, and other retirement benefits, when he reaches 55.

The heavy punishment came as the integrity of the 30,000-member force has been called into question, and Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung has vowed a zero tolerance approach to any misbehaviour by officers under his command.

Speaking to the media last month, Lo was adamant about the importance of his officers maintaining the highest standards of integrity.

“Any black sheep has to go,” the source said. “We have tightened our disciplinary mechanism. The recent harsh punishment is a warning to all our colleagues that there will be no leniency for those who breached disciplinary rules.”

The source said in the past Pannu’s misconduct would have merited a written “warning for dismissal”, which would mean an officer would be expelled if they stepped out of line again.

Integrity of Hong Kong police must not be compromised

“Now we must maintain and uphold integrity in the highest standard, as the police chief said. Pannu’s misconduct had undoubtedly brought disrepute to the force,” the source added.

The internal investigation against Pannu began after a female inspector filed a sexual harassment complaint in 2016, following an incident in December 2015.

The female inspector said she received two close-up pictures of male genitalia from Pannu when she was driving home from the party at Kwun Tong police station, where Pannu was also based.

Pannu is said to have called her to see if she had received the pictures, and followed that up by sending her a 12-second video of a naked woman.

So far in 2018, 15 police officers have been disciplined for a variety of offences.

Pannu, who was born in Hong Kong, joined the force in 1995. In a 2015 media interview, he said he was a third generation ethnic Indian from a family of officers, and his father and grandfather had also served in the force.

He called being a policeman a meaningful and heroic job, as it enabled him to seek justice for the victims of crime.

Concerns raised as 26 Hong Kong police officers arrested in 2018 so far

The city’s police force has faced a growing integrity crisis, with an increasing number of officers being arrested. In the first half of the year, an average of one officer a week has been arrested.

According to the police, 15 officers were found guilty of disciplinary offences in the first four months of this year, compared to 43 in 2017, and 50 in 2016.

A police spokesman said punishments had ranged from a caution, to dismissal without retirement benefits, while one officer was sacked outright, although the spokesman declined to provide details of that case.