Hong Kong police detention centres are dirty and poorly equipped and detainees are often deprived of their basic human rights, according to a survey by the Society for Community Organisation (SoCO).

People put into police detention facilities complained about lack of access to toilets, drinking water, showers and other daily necessities, the NGO said in a press release on Thursday.

SoCO holds a press conference on its findings regarding conditions of police detention centres. Photo: SoCO.

The human rights organisation conducted the survey between March and June this year. It found that poor conditions at Hong Kong police detention centres had not changed despite an upgrade in 2010.

Detainees reported having to sleep on hard beds without pillows or mattresses. They were deprived of privacy due to a lack of doors in detention cells, some of which were said to have no toilets or washing basins. Shower facilities were also unavailable, the survey found.

In one case, a woman in her 50s said she had to urinate on the cell floor multiple times over more than 30 hours in detention.

Detainees were deprived of privacy, healthcare and water and their basic human rights, the report found. Photo: SoCO.

Police officers’ attitudes were also another cause of complaint for many detainees. Officers often responded negatively or “pretended not to hear” detainees’ requests for water or to go to the toilet, SoCO said.

Some detainees reported being denied healthcare when they were sick, researchers found. In one case, a 68-year-old woman suffering from hyper-tension was deprived of her prescribed medicine and was hospitalised the next day, SoCO’s report said.

SoCO also said the police responded poorly when researchers asked to visit detention facilities. Their request was denied and their written questions were mostly ignored by the police, SoCO said in its press release.

The NGO has urged police to respond to the report and review conditions of its detention centres. It also called for an independent organisation to monitor detention facilities and keep the police accountable.

HKFP has sought comment from the police.

Update on October 25: In an email reply to HKFP, the police said they respect the rights of detainees and defended the conditions of detention facilities.

“The detention facilities are clean and well ventilated with adequate lighting… Clean blanket, meals and drinks will also be provided. Hot shower / washing facilities and sanitary items will be provided on request,” a police spokesperson said.

Detention centres are not opened to visits by the public, police added.


Vivienne Zeng

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.