Surge in complaints on police behavior

Local | Charlotte Luo 6 Dec 2018

A police watchdog says the number of complaints it endorsed where officers erred to some degree has gone up 35.4 percent over the previous year.

This is stated in the 2017/18 annual report of the Independent Police Complaints Council, which passed 1,617 cases, an increase of more than 4.3 percent over the previous year. These involved 2,872 allegations - up 2.3 percent year on year.

They included 134 allegations that were classified as "substantiated," "substantiated other than reported," and "not fully substantiated." These cases involved officers who had committed some level of wrongdoing such as beatings, abuse of power, intimidation, fabrication of evidence and other offenses.

Richard Yu Koon-hing, the council's secretary general, said the situation was worthy of attention and called on the force to handle the matter seriously.

Half of the allegations lodged to the council involved negligence, while the second most cited were cases involving officer's misbehavior, poor attitude, and use of coarse language.

Yu said a total of 130 police officers were required to undergo disciplinary hearings or other internal actions for the 2017/18 period, an increase from 88 officers in the previous year.

He said the council had informed the Complaints Against Police Office about this situation.

Anthony Francis Neoh, the council's chairman, said that the police are actively following up on the installation of CCTV in police cars and he personally supported any measures which could reduce the number of complaints.

Following technological advancement, the number of complaints involving the use of personal mobile phones while on duty by police officers has increased from 5 in the 2016/17 period to 15 in the 2017/18 period.

One of the cases involved a man who was suspected of stabbing a shop owner at a convenience store. Two police officers arrived at the scene to check the CCTV footage and used their mobile phones to record the footage. The clip was then circulated on the Internet. The case had been classified as "substantiated" and the officers involved had been warned.

The Council's deputy secretary general in operations, Daniel Mui Tat-ming, said that the police officers' Codes of Practice stated that police officers should not use private mobile phones when handling work duties.

He said the Complaints Against Police Office currently agrees it needs to review and strengthen the implementation of the guidelines, and it will remind front line staff to only use mobile phones during appropriate circumstances.

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