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LCQ2: Police attach great importance to integrity management of police officers
     Following is a question by Dr Hon Cheng Chung-tai and a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, in the Legislative Council today (March 29):
     It has been reported that 43 police officers, including senior police officers, were arrested last year, and such number represented an increase of 23 per cent as compared with that of the preceding year. The offences allegedly committed by such officers included common assaults, drink driving, thefts, fraud, indecent assaults, corruption and perverting the course of justice. Regarding the integrity management of the Police Force, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) as senior police officers are vested with the power to give orders to their subordinates, of the new measures that the authorities have put in place to ensure such officers' probity when they discharge their duties;
(2) whether it has reviewed the current police complaints system, which has been in operation for many years, to see if the system is generally trusted by the public; of the measures in place to enhance the credibility of the system, and to step up the monitoring of the conduct of police officers; and
(3) of the measures put in place to strengthen the integrity management of the Police Force and improve its public image?
     With regard to Dr Hon Cheng's question, I provide a consolidated reply as follows:
     Hong Kong has all along been one of the safest cities in the world and the Police have made indispensable contribution. We attach high importance to the discipline and integrity of police officers and have very high expectations on them. All police officers, irrespective of seniority of their ranks, must maintain high standards of discipline and integrity at all times. They must also uphold the Police's core values regarding integrity, fairness, impartiality and professionalism, etc. The Police management resolutely adopts a zero tolerance attitude to any acts of breach of the law by police officers. All cases of breach of discipline or even the law will be handled by the Police in a fair, just, serious and impartial manner.
     Police officers, like all citizens, must abide by the law. Any officer suspected to have breached the law will be investigated, arrested and prosecuted by the relevant departments. In addition, the Police (Discipline) Regulations (Cap 232A) and the Police General Orders regulate the discipline of police officers. Police officers must also observe relevant civil service regulations. If an officer is suspected to have committed a breach of discipline, the Police will conduct investigation according to the established mechanism and decide whether to take disciplinary action in accordance with the investigation result.
     The Police attach great importance to the integrity management of police officers. As early as 2009, the Police formulated the Integrated Integrity Management Framework promoting a character of integrity and honesty amongst officers through a four-pronged approach, namely, "education and culture-building", "governance and control", "enforcement and deterrence" as well as "rehabilitation and support".
     Currently, the Police have three standing committees to implement integrity management. The Force Committee on Integrity Management, which was established in 2009 with the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management) as Chairman and three Assistant Directors of the Independent Commission Against Corruption as members, is responsible for formulating and assessing integrity management strategies. The Integrity Management Co-ordinating Committee and the Formation Integrity Committees are responsible for co-ordinating the above work and implementing relevant measures in Headquarters units and various Police Districts respectively.
      In 2009, the Police published a set of behavioural guidelines stipulating that police officers, whether on or off duty, are required to oppose and report corruption and other misconduct; avoid involvement in undesirable association; not to abuse their official positions; avoid conflict of interest; as well as be fair in all dealings, etc. Integrity management elements have also been incorporated into foundation and in-service training programmes, promotion selection interviews and "living-the-values" workshops, requiring that all officers should always be highly aware of the importance of personal integrity and ethics and be law-abiding.
      In order to further strengthen integrity management, the Police set up a "Special Working Group on Integrity Management" in February this year. The Special Working Group chaired by the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Service Quality) is responsible for reviewing the existing integrity management system and studying measures for enhancement. At the same time, the Police management has from time to time reminded supervisors at all levels to continue to emphasise the importance of integrity to all officers, monitor their subordinates as appropriate, as well as advise them not to adopt any lifestyle which may embarrass the Police and may result in disciplinary or criminal consequences against them.
      Regarding the system of complaints against the Police, we have in place a well-established two-tier system with independent monitoring. The Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO) of the Hong Kong Police Force has been handling every complaint impartially. The Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) Ordinance (Cap 604) came into effect in June 2009 and established the IPCC as an independent statutory body with statutory power to monitor the Police's work in the handling and investigation of complaints.
     Under the existing police complaints system, after completing the investigation of each reportable complaint, the CAPO must submit a detailed investigation report to the IPCC for examination. Should the IPCC have any queries on the investigation or findings of the CAPO, it may ask the CAPO for clarification or more information, and may interview the complainants, police officers and witnesses concerned. The IPCC may also ask the CAPO to re-investigate the complaint or change the classification of investigation results, as well as advise and make recommendations to the Commissioner of Police and the Chief Executive. Besides, the IPCC will arrange its members and observers to conduct surprise observations on the interviews and evidence-collection work for reportable complaints of the CAPO. It will also make recommendations to the Police in accordance with its statutory functions with a view to improving existing police procedures. In fact, the number of complaints against the Police has dropped year after year from 2 421 cases in 2013 to 1 504 cases in last year. The existing police complaints system is operating effectively and is able to ensure that complaints against police officers lodged by the public are handled in a fair and just manner.
     President, the overall crime figure of Hong Kong last year fell to a new low after 1978. The achievements of police officers in fighting and preventing crimes are obvious. However, recently some people have unscrupulously criticised the Police and disregarded the Police's contribution in maintaining law and order in Hong Kong. This is very unfair to most police officers who are outstanding and professional, possess excellent integrity and loyally serve their duties. I feel deep regret at such criticisms.
     Let me give some examples. In an earlier case, a Pakistani police officer successfully persuaded, in Urdu language, a man dangerously standing on a crane lorry at a construction site to return to a safe position. Apart from winning praise of the public, the story of how he joined the Police Force was also reported by the British Broadcasting Corporation. In last year and the year before, two police officers were verbally abused while issuing fixed penalty tickets to drivers. However, they managed to stay calm and completed their job professionally. Many people after viewing the video clips concerned commended them for their performance. In addition, in a wounding case involving the use of knives in Yau Ma Tei last year, police officers used firearms to successfully stop this serious crime and displayed decisive and brave performance, which was applauded by the public.
     In recent years, the Police have rolled out a mobile application, a YouTube channel, a Facebook page and an Instagram page. Particularly, the Facebook page has attracted more than 100 000 netizens to give "Like". In addition, the Police have in place the Junior Police Call and Senior Police Call, and implemented the "Project HIMALAYA" and "Project Gemstone" which provide assistance to ethnic minorities. Also, the "Operation Breakthrough" voluntarily run by serving and retired police officers nurtures young people from disadvantaged backgrounds through sports.
     All these initiatives show that the Police are determined to enhance communications with different sectors of the community and deepen relationship with the public. The Customer Satisfaction Survey conducted by the Police in 2015 showed that 80 per cent of respondents who had come into contact and communicated with the Police were either "Very Satisfied" or "Satisfied" with the Police; while the Public Opinion Survey conducted in the same year revealed that 62 per cent of respondents continued to show confidence in the Police.
     President, trust, support and co-operation by the public are of paramount importance to the Police in fulfilling their duties of maintaining law and order and protecting the safety of life and property. The Police serve the community and I hope all of us will continue to support the Police's work and co-operate with them.
     Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:21
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