LCQ1: Improving public order
There are views pointing out that Hong Kong has long been praised as one of the safest cities in the world, but the stabbing cases that happened one after another recently have caused many members of the public to worry about public order and personal safety. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the number of stabbing cases in each of the past three years, with a breakdown by the nature of the cases and the district in which the cases occurred;
(2) as it has been reported that the senior management of the Hong Kong Police Force has recently issued a directive instructing various police districts to enhance frontline police presence and conduct high-profile patrols in areas with heavy pedestrian flow, whether the Police have plans to regularise such measures, so as to maintain a certain number of frontline officers on patrol; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) given that Hong Kong's ranking in the Legatum Prosperity Index (Safety & Security) has dropped from the sixth place in 2020 to the 16th place in 2023, what new measures the Government has put in place to reduce crimes such as violence and wounding, so as to increase public confidence in public order?
The Government have always attached great importance to cracking down on illegal and violent acts. Combating violent crimes and triad-related crimes are among some of the operational priorities of the Commissioner of Police. Indeed, the Police strive to maintain an effective frontline presence to curb violent crimes and step up intelligence-led operations.
The number of overall crimes in the first five months of 2023 have increased as compared with the same period in 2022 mainly due to the sharp increase in deception cases and the relatively low numbers of some traditional crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic in the same period last year. If we compare the crime figures in 2023 with the same period before the pandemic in 2019, it is evident that most traditional crimes were at similar level as prior to the pandemic, and indeed some violent crimes have even recorded a decline. As far as wounding cases are concerned, the figures for the first five months of 2023 as compared to those in the same period in 2022 and prior to the pandemic in 2019 all saw a decline. For detailed breakdown, please refer to Annex 1 of the reply.
However, due to the occurrence of some serious violent cases in recent months, which has aroused widespread concern in society, although the overall number of wounding cases has shown a downward trend compared with 2022 and prior to the pandemic, it has nonetheless spawned worries among citizens about the public order situation in Hong Kong. The Government will continue to prevent and combat various types of crimes on all fronts and round the clock, stay vigilant, and continue to maintain law and order.
In consultation with the Police, my reply to the Member's question is as follows:
(1) Regarding the number of wounding with knives cases in the past three years, there were 243, 208 and 176 cases in 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively. The nature of the cases mainly involved various types of disputes and cases related to domestic violence. It is evident from the above figures that the number of wounding with knives cases has decreased year by year over the past three years. For detailed breakdown, please refer to Annex 2 of the reply. In addition, districts with more wounding with knives cases include Sham Shui Po District, Yau Tsim Mong District, Tai Po District and Yuen Long District, which have higher population density or floating population. For detailed figures based on Police districts, please refer to Annex 3 of the reply.
If we compare the number of wounding with knives cases in the first five months of this year with the same periods in 2022 and 2019 prior to the pandemic, the number of cases this year has also declined. In the first five months of this year, there were a total of 64 wounding with knives cases. In the same periods of 2022 and 2019, there were 85 and 80 wounding with knives cases respectively, whereas the number for the same period in 2023 has dropped by about 25 per cent and 20 per cent respectively. For detailed breakdown, please refer to Annex 4 of the reply. For detailed breakdown of the districts for wounding with knives cases, which is generally similar to the overall situation from 2020 to 2022, please refer to Annex 5 of the reply.
It is therefore evident from the above figures that the situation of wounding with knives cases has not deteriorated, and the Police's anti-crime operations have also yielded results.
(2) In view of the recent occurrence of some serious violent cases, although the number of related crimes has decreased compared to that before the pandemic, the Police have immediately reviewed the situation in order to prevent and combat different types of crimes on various fronts, including strengthening patrols, deploying manpower, and carrying out high-profile patrols and anti-crime operations in crime black spots, shopping malls, subway stations, traffic interchanges, other hotspots with crowds throughout all districts in Hong Kong.
The Police have also comprehensively strengthened law enforcement and enhanced Police coverage, including mobilising additional internal staff from various Police districts to support frontline uniform patrols. At the same time, other anti-terrorist units, Police Tactical Unit, training units, Traffic Police and Marine Police, etc. will be deployed. In addition, criminal investigators will wear Police vests to patrol and conduct stop and search in places with a high flow of people, so as to further strengthen law enforcement and increase the sense of security among citizens.
In addition to effective Policing strategies, joint efforts with all sectors of the community are also an indispensable and important element in preventing and eradicating crimes. Therefore, the Police will continue to actively promote community participation and continue to strengthen crime prevention awareness among property management companies, security industry and the general public. In addition, the 21 Police districts in Hong Kong will continue to maintain close contact with property management companies, remind security personnel to "Spot and Report". The Crime Wing Headquarters has also contacted the Hong Kong Association of Property Management Companies to actively discuss how to improve the existing crime reporting mechanism. On the other hand, the Police will hold meetings with over 40 taxi trade associations, and appeal to the taxi industry to notify the Police as soon as possible when they discover suspicious incidents.
(3) As for some international indexes related to safety and security, different indexes and rankings have different calculation methods and considerations, and some indexes may put heavier weights on political consideration. If we make reference to another index, the "2023 Global Safety/Crime Index" ranking released by the database website Numbeo, Hong Kong ranks sixth in the safety index among 142 countries and regions in the world, one place up from last year.
In fact, crime rate is the most objective indicator of whether a city is safe. Hong Kong has always been one of the safest cities in the world, and its overall crime rate is lower than that of many international cities. For example, in 2021, the crime rates of Paris, London and Toronto are about 14 times, 11 times and 4.5 times that of Hong Kong respectively. For the comparison of the crime rate between Hong Kong and other cities, please refer to Annex 6 of the reply.
I am sure that all of us will remember that Hong Kong was affected by the serious violence in the riots in 2019. Fortunately, under the strong deterrence of the Hong Kong National Security Law and the active and decisive enforcement of the Police, the current public order situation in Hong Kong has generally returned to safety and stability. The Government will continue to prevent and combat various types of crimes around the clock to ensure the safety of the community; we will also seize different occasions and opportunities to promote Hong Kong as a liveable and safe city to other parts of the world and tell the genuine good stories of Hong Kong.
Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, July 5, 2023
Issued at HKT 16:07
Issued at HKT 16:07