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Speech by Commissioner of Police


Following is a speech by the Commissioner of Police, Mr Dick Lee Ming-kwai on "Global Security - A Role for All " to the Asian Securitex Conference 2004 held at the Convention and Exhibition Centre today (June 16)(English only).

Good morning ladies and gentlemen.

I was very pleased to be invited to speak again at the Asian Securitex Conference and am particularly honoured to have been asked to open the event this year.

The theme of the conference reflects what the Hong Kong Police consider to be an appropriate approach to the security issues which affect us all.

The programme rightly addresses the issue which continues to hold the world's attention - terrorism.

The first day has been given over to the specific issue of terrorism and also the areas of legal obligations for the global trader, logistics and port security. In each of these areas, the demands placed upon security have, to varying degrees, been driven by the response of governments to the threat posed to international trade by terrorism.

As a major transport and trading hub, Hong Kong is well aware of the need to meet any threat both in terms of protecting itself and its citizens and in terms of maintaining the confidence of our trading partners in the integrity of our trans-shipment facilities to ensure that cargo passing through Hong Kong poses no threat to its port of destination.

To this end, our international airport was designed and constructed with security in mind. Using a combination of security systems and a dedicated security force, Chek Lap Kok International Airport has set the standard for aviation security and its achievements in respect of security have been recognised via a series of international awards.

Hong Kong is also the proud operator of Kwai Chung container terminal, the busiest in the world and, as a signatory to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, is now pursuing implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code to ensure compliance by July, 2004.

Hong Kong is also home to the regional Headquarters of a host of international financial and trading companies, any one of which may represent a target for terrorist attention by virtue of their financial or political affiliations or for no reason other than their perceived representation of particular national interests.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government considers the security of such corporations to be synonamous with that of Hong Kong itself. In seeking to address their security and to allay their concerns, the Hong Kong Police have taken a leaf from their crime prevention handbook; partnership, in recognition of the reality that the Police cannot be everywhere at all times and that everyone in Hong Kong, from the multi-national corporation to the individual, must assume a degree of responsibility for his own security. Police seek to provide a secure society but the components of that society must themselves achieve security.

The Hong Kong Police, however, recognise that some elements of society require assistance and guidance to achieve a level of security which is of benefit to all. Therefore, post 9-11 advisories were issued to trade and industry bodies to advise them of the steps they could take to protect themselves against the possible threat posed by bombs or biological weapons. Individual corporations are encouraged to establish links with local Police operational duties - the first to respond to the emanation of any threat. On the broader level, liaison is maintained and intelligence shared with Police and intelligence agencies in other jurisdictions and the threat level is constantly reviewed.

On reviewing the conference programme, I was pleased to note, however, that the emphasis of presentations is not solely upon terrorism. After all, the driving force behind international and local efforts to combat terrorism is to ensure the continuation of life as normal. Normality, unfortunately, includes the pursuit of profit-motivated crime. I am therefore, as Commissioner of Police, gratified to find that the Asian Securitex Conference 2004 also serves to remind us all of our more day-to-day challenges and responsibilities.

Whilst the cloud of terrorism occupies the forefront of our security preparations and responses, we cannot afford to ignore the threat posed by common-or-garden criminals whose activities may nevertheless spell disaster for the even largest commercial enterprise. Mention of Barings, Enron and Anderson should dispel scepticism about the avoidable potential for financial ruin.

Hong Kong is a safe city in which to live and do business. Does this mean we are crime-free? Relatively, so. The year 2003 saw a 16% increase in overall crime levels to 88,377. However, whilst acknowledging that this is a challenge which must be met head-on by the Hong Kong Police, I would like to draw attention to two sets of figures which, I believe, give an indication of the overall security of the society in which we live.

In 2003, there was an average of 8.8 robberies per day. Given that in Hong Kong 'robbery' includes everything from mugging to bank robbery, in a city of over 7 million, I believe this is a statistic which reflects the safety with which our citizens can walk our streets.

In contrast, the largest single category of crime was Miscellaneous Theft, at 20,015 or 23% of all crime. This is essentially the 'sneak' type of crime - the unattended bag in a restaurant or bar, the purse left on an office desk, etc. In other words, the inattention of the victim has facilitated the commission of a 'discrete' crime.

The credit for keeping our streets free from the more overt type of crime such as robbery, and its attendant 'fear of crime' undoubtedly goes to my uniformed colleagues on the beat. With an establishment of 27,731, the Hong Kong Police is committed to maintaining a highly visible Police presence, something which I am sure will have been noticed by our international delegates. As a Police force we have always recognised the importance of this presence as a strong deterrent to crime. As a high rise city, Hong Kong's environment has merely served to reinforce our commitment to foot patrols rather than a reliance upon vehicles which, as other jurisdictions have found to their cost, serve to distance the Police from the population they serve.

Earlier, I mentioned the importance of a Police/societal partnership. This has been a very important element of our efforts to combat crime in Hong Kong. We acknowledge our limitations and seek to empower our partners to better protect themselves. As in most jurisdictions around the world, through a variety of publicity measures we seek to educate the public about prevalent crimes and the means by which they can avoid victimisation.

On a more specific level, our Crime Prevention Bureau offers professional security advice to individuals, corporations and industry bodies. Pursuing the partnership theme, the Bureau, on behalf of the Force, maintains close liaison with industries as diverse as retail, banking, goldsmiths, hotels, taxi-operators and property management. By forging partnerships with representative bodies of these sectors, we are able to reach a wide audience whilst maximising use of limited resources - a comment which I am sure will strike a chord with security professionals everywhere.

One industry which I omitted from the list I have just mentioned was, of course, the security industry. Regulated via licensing since 1995, the industry is subject to regular Police inspection. However, rather than isolating the industry from Police, regulation has served to enhance our mutual understanding of each others' objectives and difficulties. One very positive illustration of this is in the field of intruder alarms. In 1989, false alarms averaged 3.94 per system per year. That figure is now down to 1.09, despite a 125% increase in the number of alarm systems installed in the interim and further reductions are anticipated as further improvements to installation and monitoring standards, many of them introduced in response to industry recommendations, take effect.

In closing, I urge you all to take maximum benefit from attendance at this conference. Throughout this conference, I have sought to stress the importance of partnerships and this is equally valuable in the private, as well as the public sector. In 2002, the Hong Kong Police hosted a Transnational Organised Crime Conference. The conference itself was a huge success, providing a forum for the exchange of new ideas and best practice. However, the true value of such events will be realised in the years to come as delegates maintain contacts made, share information, learn from each others' successes and failures and continue to work towards a mutual security goal.

The line-up for the next two days comprises an array of highly-qualified speakers. I am sure their presentations will be informative and thought-provoking. But do not miss this opportunity to forge partnerships within your individual industries and across professional and international boundaries. In today's world, society demands security solutions. It is incumbent upon us all to provide them.

Police Report No. 3

Issued by PPRB

End/1500 hrs, Wednesday, June 16, 2004


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