Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ6: Complaints involving assault by police officers

     Following is a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, to a question by Hon Kenneth Leung in the Legislative Council today (July 9):


     In 2012-2013, the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) endorsed the results of investigations into 2 489 complaint cases handled by the Complaints Against Police Office. Those cases involved 4 884 allegations against police officers and 323 of them were allegations of assault. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether the Police have provided training to frontline police officers to ensure that they will not use force abusively in discharging duties in order to avoid being complained; if they have, of the details; and the objective and independent monitoring measures and procedures that the authorities have put in place to prevent police officers from using force inappropriately in the process of law enforcement and handling arrestees;

(2) in each of the past five years, of the respective numbers of police officers who were prosecuted in criminal proceedings and became the subjects of investigations in disciplinary hearings for alleged assaults or inappropriate use of force in discharging duties, as well as the respective numbers of police officers who were sanctioned in the form of warning, caution or admonition for such acts; and

(3) whether the Police have installed closed circuit televisions (CCTVs) in rooms in police stations for handling arrestees as well as in the compartments of police cars at present, so as to enhance the protection of the interests of arrestees and police officers; if they have, of the distribution and locations of such CCTVs and the criteria for using them; if not, whether they will consider such installations; if they will not consider, of the reasons for that?



     Under the statutory two-tier police complaint system, the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO) under the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) is specifically responsible for the handling and investigation of public complaints against police officers.  To ensure that complaints are handled in a fair and impartial manner, the CAPO is independent of other Police units in its operation. Upon completion of investigations, the CAPO shall submit its investigation reports on reportable complaints to the statutory Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) for examination and review, ensuring that public complaints against police officers are handled fairly and impartially.

     According to the CAPO, among the complaints involving assault by police officers in the past five years, over 80% were endorsed by IPCC as "not pursuable" or "withdrawn", while the remaining 20% were mostly classified as "no fault", "false" or "unsubstantiated" upon thorough investigation. In the past five years, no complaint cases involving assault were found to be "substantiated".

     Upon analysis of the statistical data, the CAPO pointed out that a substantial number of complainants alleging that they had been assaulted by police officers were themselves involved in some criminal cases while lodging such complaints to the Police.  The complainants or their legal representatives generally used the substance of their complaints as defence in the criminal trial. Once the criminal cases were closed, the complainants would often take the initiative to withdraw their complaints or refuse to contact or respond to the CAPO. As a result, a considerable number of complaints involving assault were eventually classified as "not pursuable" or "withdrawn" every year.

     The Administration's reply to the question raised by Hon Kenneth Leung is as follows:

(1) and (2) Police officers maintain self-discipline and exercise a high degree of restraint in their discharge of duties.  The Police have put in place very clear guidelines and training to instruct their officers not to use force unless it is necessary and there are no other alternatives to accomplish their lawful duties.  In addition, the level of force to be used should be minimal and reasonably required under such circumstances.

     As mentioned above, no complaints involving allegations of assault were classified as "substantiated" in the past five years. A vast majority of complaints involving assault were classified as "no fault", "false" or "unsubstantiated" upon thorough investigation.  During the same period, a total of five allegations involving assault were endorsed and classified as "not fully substantiated" by IPCC, i.e. there was some reliable evidence to support the complainants' allegation but such evidence was insufficient to fully substantiate the complaint. Upon examination, the Police considered that those five cases were stand-alone incidents involving individual officers' integrity, and were unrelated to Police's procedures and guidelines.  To follow up, the Police took disciplinary actions against the seven officers involved, including advice, warnings and disciplinary proceedings.

     In the past five years, two other police officers were prosecuted for suspected assault during their discharge of duties.  Both were acquitted after trial.

     The Police always attach importance to the prevention of complaints, with the overall objective of enhancing the quality of their public services. By means of various forms of training, the Police have endeavoured to enhance the professional sensitivity, communication skills and awareness of complaint prevention of officers at all levels, reinforcing the value system of the Force and ensuring a clear understanding among officers of all ranks of their respective professional responsibilities. Apart from monitoring the trends of complaints, implementing the prevention of complaints and reducing complaints through improved work procedures, the CAPO and frontline commanders regularly examine relevant trends of complaints for the purpose of taking prompt measures to address the issues and improve their services.

     On another front, the Police attach great importance to the personality and integrity of law enforcement officers. In addition to complaint prevention, the Police have continued to adopt a four-pronged strategy, namely education and integrity culture building, governance and control, enforcement and deterrent, and rehabilitation and support, ensuring that all members of the Police maintain a high level of integrity and demonstrate a high degree of professionalism in their discharge of duties.

(3) On account of security considerations, the HKPF has installed closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance systems at different areas in a police station, such as the report room, exits/entrances of the police station and the access to the detention rooms, for capturing the activities inside a police station and its surrounding areas.

     The Police respect the privacy and rights of arrestees and detainees. For the sake of privacy, the Police do not and have no plan to install CCTVs in other places of a police station where arrestees are handled, including custody search area and detention rooms, or in the compartments of police cars.

     Thank you, President.

Ends/Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:52


Print this page