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LCQ15: Combating illegal prostitution

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Che-cheung and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, in the Legislative Council today (June 10):


     Some residents of old districts have relayed to me that the problem of prostitution in the districts is serious, causing nuisance to the residents. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of the following in the past three years:

(1) the number of anti-vice operations mounted by the Police, with a breakdown by District Council district or police district;

(2) the respective numbers of persons arrested in anti-vice operations for (i) allegedly soliciting for immoral purposes and (ii) allegedly breaching their conditions of stay for engaging in prostitution, with a breakdown by District Council district or police district;

(3) the number of persons arrested by the Police for allegedly controlling over persons for the purpose of prostitution, and the penalties generally imposed on those convicted;

(4) the number and male-to-female ratio of persons under the age of 16 or students found to be engaging in prostitution activities by the Police during anti-vice operations, with a breakdown by age group; how the Police handled these persons; and

(5) the measures taken by the authorities to combat prostitution activities organised through the Internet; whether they have assessed the effectiveness of such measures; if they have assessed, of the outcome?



     The Police are highly concerned about and are committed to the combat of illegal prostitution. To prevent exploitation of others for the purposes of prostitution, combat organised prostitution activities, and lessen the nuisance to members of the public that vice activities may cause, various prostitution-related offences are stipulated under Part XII of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200), including "control over persons for the purpose of unlawful sexual intercourse or prostitution", "living on earnings of prostitution of others", "causing prostitution" and "keeping a vice establishment". The maximum penalty of the above offences ranges from a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment of six months to imprisonment of 14 years. The Police have all along been taking proactive enforcement actions against such offences, targeting in particular persons controlling sex workers for prostitution and operating vice establishments.

     My reply to various parts of the Hon Leung's question is as follows:

(1) to (4) In the past three years, figures of persons arrested by the Police for having involved in two types of offences, i.e. "procuring/controlling of prostitution" and "keeping a vice establishment" are at Annex 1, while figures of prosecution and conviction of relevant offences under the Crimes Ordinance are at Annex 2. According to the Immigration Department's records, the relevant number of persons arrested for being suspected of taking up unlawful employment (sex work) in the past three years is at Annex 3. However, the Police do not have the number of anti-vice operations conducted and statistical figures by police district.

     All along, the Police spare no efforts in the combat of all kinds of illegal prostitution activities, especially prostitution activities organised by syndicates and those involving underage persons. In case underage persons are found to be involving in prostitution activities, the Police will adopt appropriate measures, including contemplation of an application for a care order or a protection order from the court in the light of actual circumstances. On another front, the Police will tackle the issue by cultivating proper values among young persons, which includes organising talks in primary and secondary schools, as a means to render assistance to school authorities in handling related problems. The Police will also maintain close contact with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and persons-in-charge of websites frequently visited by youngsters. For instance, warning notices targeting "compensating dating" will be posted at such websites.

(5) To combat the conduct of illegal prostitution activities via the Internet, the Police will maintain close contact with persons-in-charge of websites for gathering intelligence. The Police will carry out enforcement actions as appropriate upon identification of suspicious websites, chat rooms or discussion forums. Taking a police operation against illegal prostitution activities in January 2015 as an example, a total of 12 persons were arrested for having involved in offences such as "control over persons for the purpose of prostitution", "causing prostitution" and "living on earnings of prostitution of others", with over $1.8 million of criminal proceeds having been frozen as a consequence. Amongst the arrestees, one male and one female were suspected to have provided information of female prostitutes via a social networking website to male members and charged fees in the process. For the purpose of effective law enforcement, the Police will continue to actively combat illegal prostitution activities and adjust their strategies according to circumstances.

Ends/Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Issued at HKT 16:57


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