Crime rates in Hong Kong last year at its lowest in 36 years despite claims Occupy Central spread lawlessness in community

Police say number of offences in 2015 down 1.9 per cent on previous year, marking lowest level since 1979

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 January, 2016, 6:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 January, 2016, 8:58am

Crime in Hong Kong last year fell to its lowest rate since 1979, despite earlier police claims that the Occupy Central movement had spread a sense of lawlessness among the community.

Former police commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung warned last year there could be more crime post-Occupy, as the pro-democracy campaign had done great harm to law and order in the long term.

But yesterday police revealed the city’s overall crime rate had declined for nine consecutive years and dropped 1.9 per cent in 2015 over the previous year to a 36-year low.

Tsang’s successor, Stephen Lo Wai-chung, sidestepped questions as to whether Tsang had exaggerated his case.

“I believe the lawlessness you mentioned, Tsang was talking within the context of the illegal Occupy Central movement,” said Lo.

“My report on 2015 is largely on crime like triad offences and dangerous drugs ... rather than the illegal acts mentioned by Tsang.”

A total of 66,439 crimes were reported last year – 910 cases per 100,000 people.

The overall crime detection rate climbed 1.4 per cent to 44.8 per cent, with more than 37,000 people arrested last year.

Bucking the downward trend, crime related to blackmail surged 54.4 per cent year on year to reach 1,366 cases – the biggest jump among all offences. Lo said most of these cases were linked to sex scams and had conned a total of HK$3.5 million out of the victims.

He also reminded the public to stay alert to phone scams, which were up by almost 30 per cent to around 2,880 cases last year.

Nearly half of the cases involved fraudsters posing as mainland officials who duped Hongkongers into parting with more than HK$300 million.

Although the average number per month dropped from 838 at its peak to 105 last December, police noted that more mainland migrants and students in Hong Kong had fallen prey to such scams.

“Most of the Chinese new comers in the city have never heard of such phone scams, and that’s why they fell into traps easily. We will continue to raise public awareness on the issue,” Lo said.

Reported rapes surged 25 per cent to 70 cases last year. Triad- related crimes saw a 10.3 per cent increase to 1,812 cases.

Meanwhile, the force has finished its investigation into offences committed during the 2014 Occupy movement.

Nearly half of the 955 arrested during the protests were released, but the force is still waiting for judicial advice on how to proceed with 267 arrest cases.

When asked if police had been making arbitrary arrests, the commissioner said: “ I do not agree as there is a standard to follow when making arrests. There is also a set of standards when it comes to prosecution and sentencing in the court.”