The police watchdog has warned officers not to reveal their police identity for personal matters when off duty, as some were found to have used their authority to take advantage during disputes or befriend women. But the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) stressed the problem was not serious as only five or six complaints were received each year. It substantiated misconduct allegations against two officers who used their identities to pressure the other party to get an advantage in traffic incidents. Police watchdog chief calls for more communication with Hong Kong’s younger generation In one case in March 2015, an off duty constable overtook and stopped a Post Office vehicle as he was not satisfied with how it was being driven. The officer showed his warrant card and warned the driver that he would prosecute him for “careless driving”, prompting a complaint against the officer. “Even if he was dissatisfied with the driving manner, he could have reported the matter to the traffic unit just like an ordinary citizen,” the watchdog’s deputy secretary-general, Daniel Mui Tat-ming, said on Wednesday, adding it was “not appropriate” for the constable to have revealed his identity. The case was later brought to court and the policeman was fined HK$3,000 for careless driving. He also faced a disciplinary review. In an incident last month, the relative of an off duty constable who had stopped his car at a lay-by in the New Territories accidentally scratched another car while opening the door to get out. I also saw cases in which officers took the personal particulars of women while at work and called them after office hours Daniel Mui Tat-ming, IPCC The officer revealed his police identity, which prompted a verbal dispute and a complaint that he had unnecessarily used his authority. The force cleared him, saying there was no evidence to suggest ill intent, but the IPCC disagreed. “The display of the police warrant card might have given the complainant a wrong perception that he was using his identity to settle the traffic incident,” Mui said. The force later recategorised the allegation to “misconduct” and substantiated the complaint. The officer was given a warning without entry on his file record. “I also saw cases in which officers took the personal particulars of women while at work and called them after office hours hoping to make friends,” Mui said. “This is not professional and is inappropriate.” Under the Police Force Ordinance, every police officer is deemed to be always on duty but should exercise their powers only when required. The watchdog asked the force to enhance officers’ understanding of the Police General Order and further clarify codes in relation to disclosing identity when off duty. “The codes should clearly indicate in which private situation officers shall not reveal their police identity, for example, during a dispute or an event that might cause a misunderstanding,” Mui said. The police force said it had accepted the recommendation and reminded all officers about the matter.