LCQ10: Crimes committed within Railway Police District

     Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, to a question by the Hon Wong Kwok-kin in the Legislative Council today (December 21):


     It has been recently reported that there is an upward trend in the number of pickpocketing crimes within the railway premises, and among these cases, pickpocketing cases involving mobile phones happen frequently in which the offenders mainly aim at new smart phones and they steal these smart phones in a swift manner in crowded railway stations or train compartments, or when the victims are inattentive.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the numbers of the various types of crimes committed within the Railway Police District in the past five years, and among them, the numbers of persons who were arrested and convicted respectively, together with a breakdown by type of offence (pickpocketing, indecent assault, shop theft, clandestine photo-taking, criminal damage and wounding, etc.);

(b) among the pickpocketing cases in (a), of the number of cases which involved mobile phones;

(c) of the five railway stations in which pickpocketing cases happened most frequently according to the figures in the past five years; whether the authorities have stepped up anti-crime actions in these five railway stations so as to reduce crimes; if they have, of the specific measures; if not, the reasons for that; and

(d) given the recent increase in pickpocketing cases which involved smart phones, whether the authorities have special measures and actions to reduce such crimes; if they have, of the specific measures and the effectiveness of their actions; whether the authorities will consider strengthening the manpower of the Railway District Task Force Sub-unit and the Railway Police District so as to combat crimes within the railway premises?



(a) The figures of various types of crimes committed within the Railway Police District from 2007 to 2011, and among them, the number of persons arrested, are at Annex A.  The Police do not maintain figures of convicted cases.

(b) Among pickpocketing cases committed within the Railway Police District from 2009 to 2011, the number of cases which involved mobile phones are at Annex B.  The Police did not maintain figures of such cases before 2009.

(c) Pickpocketing cases occur most frequently at major interchange stations or stations connected with at grade public transport interchanges in the railway system, particularly during morning and afternoon peak hours when train compartments and stations are crowded, making an ideal place for pickpockets to engage in such illegal activities.

     To this end, the Railway Police District deploys frontline officers to carry out uniform static post duty and patrol while Task Force Sub-unit officers conducting plainclothes anti-pickpocket operations in these stations.  To combat pickpocketing, joint operations are also conducted with relevant surface Districts to enhance intelligence exchange on pickpocketing and to share information about the latest modus operandi.

     As for co-operation with the Mass Transit Railway Corporation Limited (MTRCL), the Railway Police District and the MTRCL regularly hold anti-crime meetings, maintain close liaison and jointly review and formulate measures to combat offences in the railways premises.  Railway Police District officers also deliver talks on crime prevention to MTRCL station staff and MTR shop staff to enhance their co-operation with the Police and to strengthen intelligence collection in their concerted action of combating crime.

     For the purpose of public education in crime prevention, the Police work with the MTRCL from time to time to promote anti-crime messages, including the production of anti-crime posters for display within station areas to enhance public awareness of security.  Various forms of anti-crime publicity activities are also conducted to remind the public to stay alert and avoid becoming crime victims.

     In addition, through the television programme "Police Magazine", the Police always remind the public of the modus operandi of common crimes in the railway premises.  They are also reminded to keep their belongings well attended at all times.  For greater safety, the public are advised to keep their bags, backpacks or handbags to the front and keep their valuables in the inner compartments of their backpacks, particularly in crowded places.  To augment their vigilance of the above crimes, the public may also go to the website of the Police to get more anti-crime information.

(d) To tackle recent pickpocketing cases involving smart phones, the Railway Police District has joined hands with relevant surface Districts to hold anti-pickpocketing publicity campaigns targeting at smart phones at various crowded stations.  To enhance public security awareness, "smart phone" notebooks produced by the Railway Police District and leaflets are distributed to remind commuters to be watchful of their mobile phones when travelling on railways.

     In addition, by disseminating messages of common modus operandi of pickpockets to the media, the Police aim to remind members of the public, to be vigilant of pickpockets.  A number of recommendations on the prevention of mobile phone theft are also provided to curb pickpocketing crimes.

     The Railway Police District also conducts internal redeployments in a flexible manner and works with surface Districts concerned to launch focal combat against pickpocketing.  This strategy is adopted to target against related crimes and it also makes room for a more effective use of district resources in fighting crimes within the railway premises.

Ends/Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:51