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LCQ17: Youth crime problem in Tseung Kwan O

     Following is a question by Dr Hon Elizabeth Quat and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, in the Legislative Council today (December 11):


     A group of Primary Six students from the Tseung Kwan O (TKO) district have recently told me that in the district, there is a serious problem of youth gangs and young night drifters, who are suspected of being involved in triad and drug trafficking activities. The students are worried that the problem has remained unresolved for a prolong period of time due to inadequate police manpower in the district. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the authorities have assessed the activities of youth gangs and young night drifters in the TKO district, including whether the Police have collected intelligence on triad and drug trafficking activities involving youth gangs; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) as the Police have planned to upgrade the TKO Police Division to a Police District in 2015, whether the authorities have taken any measure to strengthen, before the upgrade, the police manpower so as to improve the law and order in the district; if they have, of the details of such measures and the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that;

(c) as there is a comment that the inadequacy of youth facilities in the TKO district at night time has resulted in youngsters wandering the streets in the middle of the night, whether the authorities will open up more government facilities at night time for use by youngsters to avoid them from being touted on the streets by lawbreakers for carrying out illegal activities; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(d) whether the authorities will allocate additional resources to those agencies offering extended services for young night drifters at present, so that such agencies can provide further assistance to these youths in the district; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(e) whether the authorities have other means or plans to tackle the problem of youth gangs and young night drifters in the TKO district; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Police have been monitoring the youth crime situation and different measures have been taken to address the problem. In consultation with the relevant policy bureaux, we hereby provide the following reply in respect of the youth crime problem in the Tseung Kwan O (TKO) district and the support measures for the youths in the district:

(a) In the past three years, there was a downward trend in the number of youths under the age of 21 arrested by the Police for criminal offences in the TKO district. Between 2010 and 2012, there were 443, 441 and 335 youths under the age of 21 arrested by the Police in the district, who were mainly involved in wounding and serious assault, miscellaneous theft and shop theft, etc. Among them, 24, 12 and 10 were arrested for committing serious drug offences; 100, 118 and 101 were arrested for involving in triad offences. From January to September this year, there were 174 youths under the age of 21 arrested for criminal offences, a fall of 34.1% as compared with 264 people in the corresponding period of last year. Among them, 12 were involved in serious drug offences, as compared with eight in the corresponding period of last year; 49 were involved in triad offences, a drop of 43.7% as compared with 87 people in the corresponding period of last year. As to the problem of "youth gangs", the Police attach great importance to youth crimes committed by an individual or by a group and spare no effort in fighting against such crimes.

     The Police have been keeping a close watch on the latest crime situation in the TKO district. In May 2011, a special duty squad under the District Anti-Triad Squad was set up for the strengthening of intelligence collection and for the early identification and combat of juvenile delinquency in the district. The Police will continue to carry out anti-crime operations against youth crime in the district, and strengthen publicity and education efforts.

(b) Having regard to the views of local residents and organisations, population growth and community development of the TKO district, the Police are proactively re-planning and re-distributing police manpower and supporting facilities in the Kowloon East (KE) Region. A plan has also been made to upgrade the TKO Division to a Police District in 2015.

    Prior to the upgrading of the TKO Police Division to a Police District, the law and order in TKO is maintained by the TKO Division under the Kwun Tong Police District of the KE Region. In view of the rapid development of the TKO district, the establishment of the TKO Division has increased from 219 to 334 since 2002, including an addition of 20 frontline officers to its Task Force in August 2012 and 39 police officers in June 2013. In addition to the local resources allocated to the TKO Division, the establishment of the KE Region has a total of over 3 600 officers. Where necessary, the Police will meet the operational needs of the Division through internal resource deployment. The overall enforcement capability of the Police in TKO and other districts will not be constrained by the administrative boundaries of the police districts.

(c) and (d) The Government is very concerned about the development needs of young people. The Social Welfare Department (SWD) has been adopting the strategies of early identification and intervention, timely support, cross-sector and inter-departmental collaboration in providing a wide range of preventive and supportive services through subvented non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to support young people in their healthy development. Such services include Youth Outreaching Social Work Teams (YOTs), Integrated Children and Youth Services Centres (ICYSCs), School Social Work Service, Community Support Service Scheme and Counselling Centres for Psychotropic Substance Abusers (CCPSAs).

     To strengthen support for youths at risk, particularly youth gangs and young night drifters (YNDs), SWD has since October 2008 made available one additional social worker for each of the 16 YOTs and 18 teams of Overnight Outreaching Service for Young Night Drifters (YND teams) over the territory to enhance timely intervention and counselling service.  In December 2010, SWD allocated additional resources to provide one more social worker to each of the 16 YOTs. SWD has apportioned more resources to districts which have greater service demand, including the YND team in Tseung Kwan O. To address service needs for young people, SWD has since January 2013 further allocated more resources to set up three new YOTs, one each in Tseung Kwan O, Ma On Shan and Tung Chung. Outreaching social workers reach out to youths at risk in the districts from 10am to 6am on the next day, provide timely counselling and facilitate their access to various kinds of mainstream services.

     To meet the needs of youths at risk who are psychotropic substance abusers, SWD has also allocated additional resources to CCPSAs to strengthen counselling service and assistance to such youths. The number of CCPSAs has increased from five to 11 to provide services over the territory. Among them, the Rainbow Lutheran Centre of Hong Kong Lutheran Social Services, established in October 2010 to mainly serve Wong Tai Sin, Sai Kung and Tseung Kwan O, provides services, including outreaching services, to youths at risk who are psychotropic substance abusers.

     At present, there are seven ICYSCs and one Children and Youth Centre providing services to children and young persons in Tseung Kwan O.  At the district level, the District Social Welfare Offices (DSWOs) of SWD have been working actively with the District Councils, other Government departments and community stakeholders to pool together community resources and efforts to provide appropriate services to youths in need. Regarding night facilities, DSWOs and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) have, taking into account the need of YNDs in individual districts, opened up LCSD's sports venue facilities, including the Tseung Kwan O Sports Centre, at night since 2002 for YND teams to organise activities for young people.

     Through the existing platform of the Local Committee on Services for Young People, DSWOs will continue to co-ordinate the work of district youth services units by mobilising them to make the best use of district resources and, in conjunction with resident associations, organise different forms of activities for vulnerable young people and those who are at risk, to assist them to stay away from youth gangs and crime.

(e) Regarding the problem of youth crime in the TKO district, the Police, in addition to stepping up law enforcement, have been making efforts in publicity and education by organising youth education programmes in collaboration with District Councils, District Fight Crime Committees, schools, NGOs, the SWD and the Education Bureau. Regarding the school sector, efforts have been made by the Police to strengthen education on the prevention of youth crime via School Liaison Officers. The "Green Jumper" Project has been launched since 2011. Through ball games and sharing sessions, frontline police ambassadors are assigned to visit secondary schools in relevant districts in a bid to drive home the message of staying away from crime. At the same time, the TKO Division has been launching the "Drug Free for Everyone Project" in collaboration with Sai Kung District Fight Crime Committee and Rainbow Lutheran Centre since 2008, holding anti-drug seminars and competitions in schools in the district to raise youth awareness of the harmful effects of drug abuse. On another front, the Police vigorously promote the activities of the Junior Police Call to instil anti-crime awareness and positive values in its members.

     SWD will closely monitor the needs of youths at risk, in particular youth gangs and YNDs, and timely review the demand for services. Taking into account the characteristics and service needs of their respective districts, DSWOs will collaborate with relevant youth services units and stakeholders to provide young people with diversified and appropriate services, and support them to grow in a healthy manner.

Ends/Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Issued at HKT 17:48


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