Local people’s trust in the Hong Kong Police Force has fallen, a new survey has revealed.

The study, conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, asked 1,006 respondents to give ratings on a scale of 0-10. The mean score for public trust in the police force was 5.41. The figure was down on the last survey in March, which showed a score of 5.79. It is even lower than the 5.49 score in September 2014 when the pro-democratic Umbrella Movement began.

However, the poll also indicated that more respondents “trust” the police force, 45.8%, than those who “do not trust” it, 31.6%.

police july 1
Hong Kong Police Force.

The opinion poll also indicated that citizens are polarised in their views. While 11% of respondents gave a score of zero and indicated a complete mistrust in the law enforcement agency, 12.8% of those surveyed expressed their complete trust by awarding it a score of ten.

Apple Daily quoted one of the study’s researchers, Louis Leung Wing-chi, as saying the opinion poll could ring “an alarm bell” for the police force.

In recent weeks, activists have expressed discontent following the police’s refusal to prosecute superintendent Chu King-wai, who was filmed hitting a man with his baton in Mong Kok during the Umbrella Movement. Chu claimed he only used his baton “as an extension of his arm to pat” the man. Police said the case was “not fully substantiated”, adding there was not enough evidence to prove Chu intentionally assaulted the man.

Superintendent Chu King-wai filmed using batons to hit people. Photo: Apple Daily.

A similar study conducted by the University of Hong Kong in June, revealed that satisfaction with the Hong Kong Police Force had declined to its lowest level since 2012.

In May, former police chief Andy Tsang Wai-hung said he believed the relationship between the police and the community was good. He said: “If you refer to some people who do not wish to abide by the law, and ask them how they feel about police-community relations, they will [say] it is not good.”

Former police chief Andy Tsang Wai-hung. Photo: GovHK.

Last week, the chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Council, Larry Kwok Lam-kwong, said that officers were “bullied” by “provocative protesters” during last year’s Occupy protests. However, he added that some people were still satisfied with the force’s performance despite growing concerns about worsening relations between police and the community.

The CUHK survey was conducted between July 14 to July 21. It polled 1,006 Cantonese speakers in the city at random by telephone. Researchers added that the survey had a sampling error of 3.1%.

Update, 20:05: In an emailed response to HKFP, the Hong Kong Police Force said it “highly values public’s trust and support, as they are the key to the Force’s success.”
It added: “We will study the results of the opinion survey and humbly gauge public’s views on the Force.”

Eric is currently a Bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Hong Kong. Eric has his finger on the pulse of Hong Kong events and politics. His work has been published on The Guardian, Reuters and ABC News (America).