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LCQ8: Monitoring hygiene blackspots by Internet Protocol cameras
     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Lau Siu-lai and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (June 21):


     The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) launched a six-month pilot scheme on installation of Internet Protocol cameras (the Pilot Scheme) at the end of last year, under which Internet Protocol (IP) cameras have been installed at a total of six illegal refuse dumping blackspots in Central and Western, Sham Shui Po and Yuen Long Districts to step up surveillance on illegal dumping of refuse and to assist in the planning of more effective law enforcement actions.  FEHD has indicated that it will conduct a review on the scheme upon its completion to decide whether or not to extend the scheme to various districts across the territory in consultation with the District Councils concerned.  However, some media organisations uncovered that the hygiene conditions at the relevant refuse blackspots did not improve during the implementation of the Pilot Scheme.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) given that the Government once installed in 2003 closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) at various hygiene blackspots following the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome for surveillance on the hygiene conditions of various districts but, upon a review conducted in 2008, it considered that the law enforcement departments had already grasped such information as the timing and pattern of environmental hygiene offences and subsequently removed such CCTVs one after another, whether the law enforcement departments have updated such information continually since 2008; if so, of the reasons why FEHD still needed to launch the Pilot Scheme; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) of the details of the Pilot Scheme, including the respective numbers of IP cameras installed in the three aforesaid districts, the average number of inspections conducted daily by FEHD officers at the relevant refuse dumping blackspots and the manpower involved, as well as the respective amounts of the various expenses incurred so far;

(3) whether FEHD encountered during the implementation of the Pilot Scheme a situation that illegal refuse dumping at locations near the refuse dumping blackspots concerned but not covered by the IP cameras had become worse than before; if so, of the measures that FEHD has put in place to tackle the situation;

(4) whether the authorities received, during the implementation of the Pilot Scheme, complaints from members of the public about the violation of their privacy in respect of the IP cameras; if so, of the details;

(5) as FEHD has advised that the footage on the relevant offences in respect of which no prosecution has been instituted within six months will be deleted, whether FEHD has, when deleting such footage, requested other government departments which have handled such footage to delete the same; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(6) whether FEHD has devised any performance indicators for the Pilot Scheme; if so, of the details; if not, how FEHD measures the effectiveness of the Scheme; and

(7) of FEHD's considerations for reviewing the effectiveness of the Pilot Scheme and examining whether or not to extend the Pilot Scheme to other districts; whether FEHD will directly consult the residents of the districts concerned before making the relevant decisions; if not, of the reasons for that?



     My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:

(1) In 2003, Team Clean recommended a series of environmental hygiene improvement measures for implementation by relevant bureaux and departments under their respective purview, with the Home Affairs Department and its District Offices taking on the co-ordinating role.  One of the measures was to monitor hygiene blackspots by closed circuit television (CCTV), which aimed at facilitating the departments concerned to collect information on the patterns of environmental hygiene offences.  Under the then arrangements, if any contraventions of legislation were detected, the local District Officers would refer the cases to relevant enforcement departments for follow-up actions.  With the installation of CCTV, the enforcement departments had obtained the necessary information, such as the timing and patterns of these offences, for planning of cleansing operations and enforcement actions.  Relevant departments ceased using CCTV to monitor hygiene blackspots in early 2008.  As an ongoing measure, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has continued its information collection and prosecution work at hygiene blackspots in various districts to address the problems of illegal deposits of refuse.  Such efforts have been carried on without interruption.  As the illegal deposits of refuse at individual hygiene blackspots became increasingly serious in recent years, FEHD has launched a pilot scheme on the installation of Internet Protocol (IP) cameras at relatively serious blackspots to monitor the contraventions and facilitate the planning of more effective enforcement actions.

(2) FEHD launched a six-month pilot scheme on December 30, 2016, which involved the installation of IP cameras at two refuse deposit blackspots each in Central and Western, Sham Shui Po and Yuen Long districts (with two IP cameras installed at each blackspot).  FEHD staff inspected refuse deposit blackspots, including those installed with IP cameras, in accordance with established procedures.  Generally speaking, in-house/contract staff inspected each blackspot at least once every day.  The estimated expenditure for the pilot scheme is about $1.23 million.

(3) Under the pilot scheme, IP cameras are installed at some refuse deposit blackspots to monitor the contraventions and facilitate the planning of more effective enforcement actions.  Another purpose is to achieve deterrent effect so that the target group will change their habitual behaviour and properly dispose of refuse.  It may take some time for offenders to change their mindsets and behaviours, and be guided towards developing a good habit and pursuing law-abiding practices.  In this respect, the pilot scheme has been effective to a certain extent, whereas the situation that offenders deposit refuse elsewhere to evade the monitoring of IP cameras is not serious.  If frequent deposits of refuse in the vicinity of blackspots with IP cameras installed are detected, effective blitz enforcement operations will be deployed.

(4) From the launch of the pilot scheme in late 2016 to early June 2017, only one public enquiry was received in April this year about the legal basis of the IP camera installed outside Cheung Wah Street Refuse Collection Point, Sham Shui Po and the authority to access the images captured.  The member of the public considered that the installation of IP camera at the said location had infringed the privacy of passers-by.  In its reply in May, FEHD remarked that all images captured would be handled in accordance with the provisions on the manner of collecting personal data as stipulated in the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap 486).

(5) Under section 58 of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap 486), the disclosure of the footages to other departments is restricted to the extent necessary for enforcement and prosecution to be taken.  Upon requests of the Police and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, FEHD has provided them with a total of five pieces of footages for enforcement and prosecution purposes, which will be handled in accordance with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap 486) and the Guidance on CCTV Surveillance and Use of Drones published by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data.

(6) In assessing whether the installation of IP cameras can effectively deter/curb the illegal deposits of refuse, FEHD will take into account the amounts of refuse illegally deposited before and after the implementation of the pilot scheme, as well as the numbers of complaints and enforcement against deposits of refuse; whether it can facilitate the planning of more effective enforcement actions by FEHD; and whether it can arouse the attention of the public and offenders in order to enhance their awareness of keeping our environment clean.

(7) FEHD will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of the pilot scheme upon its completion in late June this year.  If it is assessed that the pilot scheme has achieved satisfactory results, and the support of relevant District Councils can be secured, FEHD will consider extending the scheme to other districts.
Ends/Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:28
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