A total of 11 Hong Kong police officers were arrested in the first quarter of 2023, the Security Bureau has revealed. The public should not let individual cases “obliterate” police efforts and contributions, the bureau said.

Police officer
Police officers in Hong Kong. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The Hong Kong Police Force saw 11 officers apprehended between January to April this year, Acting Secretary for Security Michael Cheuk said on Wednesday in response to questions raised by lawmaker Paul Tse concerning the conduct of police officers.

The arrest figure was around 26 per cent of last year’s total, which stood at 42. The number of police officers arrested in 2019, 2020 and 2021 were 24, 45, and 37, respectively.

The number of cases in which police officers committed crimes showed “a significant upward trend in recent years,” legislator Tse stated in his questions citing media reports. He also pointed to an increasing number of serious crimes in society, including homicide, armed robbery, burglary, telephone deception and more.

On May 15, Secretary for Security Chris Tang announced that Hong Kong’s overall crime rate had increased by 48.4 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Such cases undermined public confidence in the police and affected their image of excellence and professionalism, he said.

“The ever-increasing number of such cases has inevitably resulted in an unnecessary and biased public perception that the Police ’emphasise national security over law and order’,” Tse wrote.

Paul Tse
Hong Kong lawmaker Paul Tse. File photo: Legislative Council, via Flickr.

In response, the Security Bureau said members of the public had “very high expectations” of the conduct and discipline of officers, and the police had “rigorous discipline and a strict regime” to oversee the conduct and behaviour of officers.

The Force also had “zero tolerance” towards breaches of the law or misconduct, Cheuk said. He added officers must adhere to the rules of conduct and discipline both on and off duty.

“While there may be individual officers whose breach of the law or discipline has departed from the values of the Police, the public should not let the extremely small number of isolated cases obliterate the contribution and efforts of the overall Police officers who remain dedicated to their duties,” the acting security chief wrote in his reply.

The lawmaker also asked the bureau to provide figures related to the number of officers prosecuted in the past 12 months, as well as the number of individuals convicted and sentenced. But the government said it did not maintain such statistics.

Local media reported last month that an off-duty police officer was arrested on suspicion of stealing a mobile phone. He was suspended pending investigation. Another officer faced suspension and was charged with perverting the course of justice in February, after he was said to have aided and abetted illegal immigrants to stay in the city without the authorisation of the immigration chief, according to local media reports.

Last August, three policemen were charged with sexual offences involving a 15-year-old girl, with two of them also accused of creating child pornography. The trio, who have already been suspended by the force, face a total of 10 charges and were granted bail pending trial.

The trial is set to begin in February next year, with two defendants intending to plead guilty and one indicated his intention to deny the charges, local media reported in March.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.