Law and order situation in the first three quarters of 2022

1.   Overall crime situation
     In the first three quarters of 2022, a total of 49 927 crimes were recorded, showing an increase of 2 087 cases or 4.4% when compared with 47 840 cases in the same period of 2021. There were 6 465 cases of violent crime, a decrease of 716 cases or 10%. The detection rate of overall crimes was 31%.
     The overall crimes registered an increase mainly due to the rise of over 5 000 deception cases. However, substantial decreases were registered in various major crimes including robbery, burglary, rape, wounding and serious assault, snatching, pickpocketing, etc.
2.   Deception
     The number of deception cases increased from 13 920 cases to 19 444 cases, registering a significant increase of 39.7% or 5 524 cases. Over 70% of the reports were Internet-related.
     A two-fold increase was recorded for “employment fraud” (2 353 cases), including reports in which some citizens were suspected to have fallen prey to online “high remuneration job” scams and have been lured to Southeast Asian countries to engage in illegal activities. “Investment fraud” (2 012 cases), “telephone deception” (1 687 cases) and “online shopping fraud” (6 389 cases) registered a soar ranging from 40% to one fold.
     The huge amount of losses involved in “investment fraud” and “telephone deception” cases, which was over $1.2 billion and $700 million respectively, remained a cause for concern. For “investment fraud”, the prevalent modus operandi used by scammers were “Romance Scam cum Investment Fraud” and the use of fake investment applications to deceive victims. For “telephone deception”, “Pretend Officials” and “Guess Who” remained as the prevalent modus operandi used by scammers.
     With a view to tackling deception, Police have mounted intelligence-led operations, neutralising multiple deception syndicates in the first three quarters with the arrest of over 650 persons involving in over 2 000 cases of “online shopping fraud”, “online employment fraud”, “online investment fraud”, “telephone deception”, etc., with a total loss of about $1.4 billion.
     The Anti-Deception Coordination Centre (ADCC) continued to contribute by preventing victims of over 400 cases from wiring money to fraudsters and intercepting nearly $1 billion before the money reached scammers.
     As for publicity, following the publicity campaign titled “Anti-Deception Season” from May to August, Police hosted “The Cyber Security Expo 2022” at the Hong Kong Science Park in September. With technology application, the Expo provided a series of competitions, VR experience, games and workshops, etc., to promote public awareness of cyber security, especially among parents and youngsters. Police have also arranged the anti-scam mascot the “Little Grape” to enter school campuses to promote anti-deception messages to the school community and households. In late October 2022, Police will roll out a large-scale anti-deception publicity campaign titled “Emotional Disturbances Faced by Scam Victims”, aiming at raising citizens’ anti-scam awareness by analysing how swindlers lure the public to fall prey to their scams from psychological perspective.
     With a view to focusing Police resources in handling deception cases more effectively and efficiently, Police have established “e-Crime Processing and Analysis Hub” (e-Hub) in September. e-Hub facilitates members of the public to make online reports while carrying out correlation analysis for technology crimes and deception cases through the enhanced computer system, boosting the effectiveness in processing such crimes and preventing the spread of scams.
3.   Homicide
     In the first three quarters of 2022, 23 cases of homicide were recorded, representing an increase of five cases (+27.8%). Twelve cases involved domestic or family violence. All of the cases have been detected.
4.   Blackmail
     A total of 1 389 cases of blackmail were recorded, representing an increase of 243 cases or 21.2% when compared with the same period last year. The upsurge was mainly attributed to “naked chat” blackmail, totalling 1 049 cases, showing an increase of 250 cases. Students remained as the largest group of victims (25% of the victims). Over 60% of the victims were aged 30 or below.
     To combat “naked chat” blackmail, Police have continued to step up intelligence exchange with the Mainland law enforcement agencies and successfully assisted in smashing a syndicate responsible for 31 “naked chat” blackmail cases occurred in Hong Kong.

5.   Child abuse
     There were 891 child abuse cases, registering an increase of 2.3%. Cases involving sexual and physical abuse saw a slight decrease of 0.2% and a rise of 4.7% respectively.
     Police are currently launching another round of “Let’s T.A.L.K” large-scale education and publicity campaign on child protection lasting for one month to raise public concern. In addition, Police conducted training sessions and seminars on handling child abuse cases for various government departments, non-governmental organisations, etc., with a view to enhancing stakeholders’ awareness on child protection.
6.   Robbery and burglary
     There were 56 cases of robbery, representing a decrease of 43% when compared with same period of last year. Among these, 41 cases were detected. The detection rate was 73%. There were 646 cases of burglary, registering a significant decrease of 425 cases (-39.7%). Police detected a total of 233 cases and arrested 252 persons. The detection rate was 36%. Police will continue to mount intelligence-led operations and deploy resources flexibly to step up patrol to further combat street crimes.
7.   Sexual offences
     There were 38 cases of rape, representing a drop of 31% when compared with same period of last year. Among these, one case involved strangers. A total of 679 cases of indecent assault were recorded, representing a drop of 81 cases or 10.7%. Detection rates of rape and indecent assault cases remained high, at 97.4% and 78.9% respectively. However, about 40% (15 cases) and 30% (210 cases) of the cases involved victims aged under 16 respectively. Police will continue to monitor the trend of sexual offences and collaborate with relevant stakeholders for targeted publicity and public education.
8.   Serious drug offence
     There were 1 083 cases of serious drug offences, registering a drop of 84 cases. Police continued to mount operations to combat drug offences which resulted in an increased amount of cannabis seized in the first three quarters of 2022. In September, Police arrested two men suspected of trafficking in 900 kg of cannabis buds and 1 kg of methamphetamine (“ICE”), with an estimated market value of about $200 million.
     Police are currently launching the “Anti-Drugs Campaign 2022” to spread the message of drug harms. An anti-drug exhibition will be held at the West Kowloon Cultural District with promotion trucks, animations and videos, interactive games, etc., to promote anti-drug awareness to the public.
9.   Youth crime
     Youth crime involving offenders aged 10 to 20 saw a decrease of 351 persons (-15.5%) to 1 913 persons. Crimes that recorded decreases included wounding and serious assault (258 persons), serious drug offences (238 persons), criminal damage (224 persons), miscellaneous thefts (127 persons) and shop theft (102 persons), etc. However, increases were recorded for deception (189 persons) and unlawful society offences (90 persons), indicating that the situation of vulnerable youths being exploited by lawbreakers to commit offences remained a concern.
     In the first three quarters of this year, 12 male students aged 13 to 14 were exploited by drug syndicates and arrested for trafficking “ICE”, cocaine, ketamine and cannabis; 105 youths aged 12 to 16, with 78 of them being students, were misled and influenced by bad peers to engage in illegal debt collection activities including splashing red paint; while 12 girls aged 12 to 15, with 11 of them being students, were exploited by vice groups to engage in prostitution to earn quick money.
     Police have been actively expanding collaboration with different sectors of the community on publicity and education to cultivate youths’ law-abiding awareness, including the recent publication of a booklet titled “A chronicle of juvenile crimes – Strategies for teachers and parents” in September. The booklet illustrates youth crime trends and analyses the practices adopted by criminals to approach youngsters, etc., as well as providing corresponding anti-crime strategies and messages for teachers, parents and youngsters. In addition, Police have continued to organise diversified youth activities and competitions to enhance team spirit, leadership skills and positive values among youths. For instance, the second “Leadership Institute on Narcotics” and the “STEM-Up Innovation and Technology Competition 2022” are now open for recruitment and enrolment respectively.
10.   Enforcement on National Security Law
     As at the end of September, Police arrested a total of 210 persons. Of these, more than half of them have been charged.
     The “Counter-terrorism (CT) Reporting Hotline 63-666-999” has been promoting the awareness of “Spot and Report” since its launch in June. As at the end of September, the hotline received over 6 800 messages.
11.   Conclusion
     The law and order situation in the first three quarters of 2022 remained stable. Although the majority of crimes registered decreases, there was a significant rise of over 5 000 deception cases. Police will continue to spare no effort in combatting various crimes, and appeal to all stakeholders and the public to fight crimes with us through promoting the spirit of mutual help and care, staying alert at all times and reporting crimes proactively, especially against deception cases.

Ends/Thursday, October 20, 2022
Issued at HKT 18:00