Alcohol-fuelled nightclub fights on the rise in Hong Kong's Lan Kwai Fong
Late-night fights are on the rise in Lan Kwai Fong, with police breaking up brawls that erupt over queuing disputes, collisions on the dance floor and even "provocative staring".
Between January and last month, police recorded 45 cases of late-night violence in the drinking and clubbing hub, up from 36 in the same period last year. The cases of serious assault included wounding and assault causing grievous bodily harm.
"Our finding is that more than half of reported cases arise from minor disputes although it's a serious assault," said Superintendent Wong Chi-kwong, assistant commander (crime) for Central district.
For example, partygoers quarrel while waiting in the queue for drinks while other fights erupt when people bump into others on the dance floor.
Scuffles also happen while people wait for the toilets and there have even been cases of fights because of "provocative staring", police said.
Wong said fights were often exacerbated because patrons were intoxicated. "So we appeal to the public to enjoy yourself and know your limits," he said.
The number of theft cases in clubs was up slightly to 39 cases in the first six months this year, compared with 35 cases in the same period last year. Reports of pickpocketing fell to 26 cases, from 46 in the first half of last year.
One recent case involved a man who fell asleep on the street after a night of partying and woke to find his wallet and HK$150,000 wrist watch stolen.
In recent months, police have also targeted drug dealing in Lan Kwai Fong.
Undercover police posing as potential customers were key to dismantling a drug dealing network, police said, with the arrest of 37 people this year for drug trafficking and 20 for drug possession.
Of those arrested for trafficking, 27 were from The Gambia. Those suspected of possession included people from France, Canada, the United States and South Asian countries.
Of the 57 suspects arrested for drug offences, 41 were "Form Eight" holders, which means they arrived in Hong Kong to seek asylum. Of those, 28 were from The Gambia and others from Pakistan, India, Nigeria and Mali.
"That's a lot," said Central district deputy commander Arie Chan Yee-lai. "There is a trend of 'Form Eight' holders doing drug trafficking in Lan Kwai Fong."
Refugee advocacy groups say cases of people seeking asylum getting involved in dealing drugs were rare.
"We have, every now and then, heard about similar cases, but do not know any individuals who are directly engaged in the trade," said Justin Murgai, manager of Christian Action's Centre for Refugees.
"Nor do we have any information on whether these individuals are genuine refugees and persons of concern or economic migrants who may be abusing the protection claim mechanism. What is clear, however, is that such cases constitute a very small number of people."