The Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO) has announced a 47.8 per cent increase in the number of complaints against police during the first two months of the year, compared with 2016.

The Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC), a separate body, said that nine of the complaints were related to a closed-door rally held by police unions which was attended by over 30,000 people last month.

File photo: HKFP/Tom Grundy.

The CAPO announced on Tuesday that it received a total of 269 complaints from the public in January and February 2017, compared with 182 complaints in the first two months of 2016.

CAPO chief superintendent Cheung Kin-kwong attributed the apparent increase in complaints this year to an unusually low number of complaints last year. He said that the police normally receive an average of 130 complaints a month.

Apple Daily reported that assault was the only category that saw a decline in number of complaints in 2017.

9 complaints against police rally

IPCC chairman Larry Kwok said the nine complaints related to the police rally concerned the use of foul language and the organisation of an illegal assembly.

The rally was held in support of seven police officers sentenced to two years’ imprisonment each for assaulting activist Ken Tsang during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests. Speakers at the rally called for the enactment of a law against insulting police.

police rally
Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

One speaker led the crowd in shouting “fuck your mother,” while another compared the experiences of police officers being insulted with the persecution of Jews during the Second World War. As the rally was held on private premises, organisers did not apply for a letter of no objection from the police.

Andrew Shum of the watchdog Civil Rights Observer told HKFP it was unlikely that the complaints against the police rally would lead to any decisive action. “Based on past experience, the impact of the complaints is not great,” he said.

“It is very normal to have these kinds of complaints, because people are concerned with whether the police are following regulations, and they doubt their professionalism.”

“The biggest barrier [to resolving the complaints] is the attitude of the police’s senior management towards the rally,” he added.

Alleged assault against reporter

The CAPO also said that it will soon complete its investigation into a complaint alleging assault against a journalist during last year’s Mong Kok unrest.

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A Ming Pao reporter was allegedly “punched and kicked” by officers while covering the violent protests, despite showing documents to prove he was a journalist.

The CAPO said that it expected to deliver a report to the IPCC on the case by the end of the month.

“There were many people involved who we had to interview, and we had to review a lot of footage,” said CAPO chief superintendent Cheung. “But the investigation is nearing its end.”

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.