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Hong Kong courts

Tougher security at Hong Kong courts after knife scare sparks citywide concern

Visitors must pass through metal detectors at Family Court from Wednesday in first phase of new measures

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 November, 2017, 1:46pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 November, 2017, 10:19pm

Visitors to some Hong Kong courts will need to pass through metal detectors starting next Wednesday, a stepped up security measure after a man pulled out a knife at the High Court last month, sparking citywide concern.

The new procedures will first be rolled out at the Family Court in Wanchai Tower, followed by the High Court in Admiralty in the next phase.

“Enhanced security measures will be introduced at the Family Court to help ensure the safety of all judges and judicial officers, judiciary staff and court users,” the judiciary said in a statement on Thursday. “Appropriate measures will gradually be introduced in other court buildings.”

Since 2012, users have had to undergo a bag inspection before entering courtrooms at the Family Court. Liquids, including water and drinks, and items such as knives, scissors and umbrellas cannot be brought into courtrooms.

Man who pulled eight-inch knife at Hong Kong court turns himself in

The new measures will be introduced on top of the bag inspection. The judiciary advised court users to arrive at the building earlier, particularly during peak hours in the early morning.

“In addition, the police’s presence at the court buildings has recently been strengthened, including the stationing of police officers at the High Court and District Court premises. The judiciary will continue to review with police on how the security arrangements for all levels of courts may be further enhanced,” the statement read.

In May, a man stabbed his wife with a knife while they were handling divorce matters at the Family Court.

Last month, mainlander Yu Zhilin pulled out an eight-inch vegetable knife in the public gallery of Court No 13 at the High Court, where judge Wilson Chan Ka-shun was hearing a contempt of court case. Yu yelled at the judge before fleeing the scene. Chan had ruled against Yu years ago.

A large-scale police search ensued. In a dramatic twist, Yu turned himself in eight hours later and apologised for his acts.

The incident prompted calls for tighter security at the city’s courts, where visitors do not have to pass through metal detectors.

Police chief Stephen Lo Wai-chung promised a review and said he would not rule out stationing more officers at court buildings.

The judiciary said it had all along attached great importance to security issues and reviewed court security measures from time to time.

“When introducing the measures, the judiciary has been careful to balance the need to safeguard security against operational efficiency and convenience of court users. We will implement measures on a trial basis where appropriate.”