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LCQ9: Recordable Offences

     Following is a question by the Hon Dennis Kwok and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, in the Legislative Council today (April 13):


     The Police Operational Nominal Index Computer System (PONICS), managed by the Criminal Records Bureau of the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF), maintains a central repository of criminal records in Hong Kong. However, the policy of HKPF on keeping criminal records in PONICS and a prevailing list of offences in respect of which criminal records are to be kept in PONICS (Recordable Offence List) have not been made public. As a result, an individual convicted of an offence (particularly a minor offence) has no way to tell if his or her criminal record has been/will be kept in PONICS, either at the time of the conviction or anytime in the future. Regarding the management of PONICS, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the details of HKPF's policy on keeping criminal records in PONICS; how often HKPF conduct a review on the policy and whether HKPF will make public the outcome of such reviews;

(2) whether all criminal records which involve a sentence of imprisonment will be kept in PONICS, regardless of whether the relevant offences are on the Recordable Offence List at the time of conviction;

(3) whether, upon an offence being added to or removed from the Recordable Offence List, HKPF will retrospectively add to or remove from PONICS previous criminal records in respect of such an offence; and

(4) of the current Recordable Offence List and a list of offences which are no longer recordable, together with the dates on which the offences were added to or removed from the Recordable Offence List; whether HKPF will make public future updates to the Recordable Offence List; if HKPF will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     Under section 59 of the Police Force Ordinance (Cap 232), the Police may retain all identifying particulars of a person who has been arrested for or convicted of an offence. Such records are kept primarily to assist the Police in discharging their statutory duties of preventing, detecting and investigating crimes.

     My consolidated reply to Hon Dennis Kwok's question is as follows:

     The Police Operational Nominal Index Computer System (PONICS) maintains a central repository of criminal records in Hong Kong. In determining whether an offence upon conviction by court (Recordable Offence) should be recorded in the PONICS, the Police follow a number of guiding principles, which include:

* the gravity of the offence;
* the prevalence of the offence;
* whether heavier penalty could be imposed under the law upon a second or subsequent conviction of such an offence;
* the harm that has been or could be inflicted on persons or properties; and
* that the offence is not purely regulatory in nature.

     Apart from the above principles, where a term of imprisonment, including a suspended sentence, is imposed upon conviction for any offence, that conviction will be recorded irrespective of whether the offence is on the list of Recordable Offences.

     Examples of Recordable Offences include those involving the use of violence (e.g. wounding, assault occasioning actual bodily harm); resulting or which may result in pecuniary loss to the public (e.g. burglary and forgery); which are sexual in nature (e.g. rape, indecent assault); involving dangerous drugs (e.g. manufacturing and trafficking dangerous drugs); against the Banking Ordinance (Cap. 155); and relating to dangerous driving.  Examples of offences the conviction of which will not normally be recorded include minor offences such as jay walking and hawking, and regulatory offences.
     There is no retrospective effect regarding all newly-added Recordable Offences on the list; whereas in case an offence is removed from the list, previous convictions relating to that offence shall remain on the criminal records of the persons concerned.

     In 2004, the Police provided the then prevailing list of "recordable offences" on the request of the Legislative Council Panel on Security (details at The Police have been introducing timely amendments to the list in the light of updates to the law, and consulting the relevant government departments and statutory bodies as necessary. The list is currently under review by the Police and the relevant information will be made available to the public upon completion of the review.

Ends/Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Issued at HKT 13:28


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