Hong Kong Police Force
|Hong Kong Police Force
|Motto||We Serve with Pride and Care
|Employees||33,092 (Est. 31 March 2011)|
|Annual budget||HK$13.1 billion (2011–2012)|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Governing body||Security Bureau (Hong Kong)|
|Headquarters||Hong Kong Police Headquarters,
1 Arsenal Street,
Hong Kong Island,
|Minister responsible||Lai Tung-kwok, Secretary for Security|
|Agency executive||Stephen Lo Wai-chung, Commissioner of Police|
|Hong Kong Police Force|
|Hong Kong Police Force|
|Hong Kong Police|
The Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF), also known as the Hong Kong Police (HKP), is the largest disciplined service under the Security Bureau of Hong Kong. It is the world's second, and Asia's first, police agency to operate with a modern policing system. It was formed on 1 May 1844 by the British Hong Kong government with a strength of 32 officers. In 1969, Queen Elizabeth II granted the 'Royal' prefix and the HKPF became the "Royal Hong Kong Police Force", only to be removed in 1997 upon transfer of sovereignty.
The current Commissioner of Police is Stephen Lo Wai-chung. Including the Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force and civil servants, the force consists of about 40,000 personnel; which gave Hong Kong the second highest police officer/citizen ratio in the world in 2014. The Marine Region with about 3,000 officers and a fleet of 143 vessels in 2009, was the largest such marine division of any civil police force.
- 1 History
- 2 Structure
- 2.1 'A' Department (Operations and Support)
- 2.2 "B" Department (Crime and Security)
- 2.3 "C" Department (Personnel and Training)
- 2.4 "D" Department (Management Services)
- 2.5 "E" Department (Finance, Administration & Planning)
- 3 Ranks and insignia
- 4 Uniform
- 5 Ceremonial uniform
- 6 Vehicles
- 7 Firearms
- 8 Equipment
- 9 Special equipment
- 10 Reputation
- 10.1 Post-war Royal Police
- 10.2 Andy Tsang and beyond
- 10.3 Incidents in 2010s
- 11 In popular culture
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The Hong Kong Police has been serving Hong Kong since shortly after the island was established as a colony in 1841. On 30 April 1841, 12 weeks after the British landed in Hong Kong, Captain Charles Elliot established a police force in the new colony. The first chief of police was Captain William Caine, who also served as the Chief Magistrate.
The 1950s saw the commencement of Hong Kong's 40-year rise to global prominence, during which time the Hong Kong Police tackled many issues that have challenged Hong Kong's stability. Between 1949 and 1989, Hong Kong experienced several huge waves of immigration from mainland China, most notably 1958–62. In the 1970s and 1980s, large numbers of Vietnamese boat people arrived in Hong Kong, posing challenges first for marine police, secondly for officers who manned the dozens of camps in the territory and lastly for those who had to repatriate them. The force was granted the Royal Charter in 1969 for its handling of the Hong Kong 1967 riots—renaming it: the Royal Hong Kong Police Force.
The recruitment of Europeans to the force ceased in 1994, and in 1995 the Royal Hong Kong Police took responsibility for patrolling the boundary with China. Prior to 1995, the British Army had operated the border patrol. The Force played a prominent role in the process of handover of sovereignty in 1997 and performs ceremonial flag-raising each anniversary.
Crest and flag
The current crest of the force was adopted in 1997 so as to retire symbols of British sovereignty. Changes to the crest included:
- St Edward's Crown replaced with a bauhinia flower
- The official title of the force was changed from the monolingual Royal Hong Kong Police to the bilingual 香港 Hong Kong Police 警察
- Badge image changed from one depicting a junk British ship in Victoria harbour, to one with a modern view of Hong Kong Island and the modern skyline (Queensway Government Offices, Bank of China Building, City Hall, HSBC Building and Exchange Square). The change was prompted by the concerns of Chinese authorities, who felt the old image was too colonial.
Changes to the flag included replacing the Blue Ensign, featuring the old crest, with a single blue flag with the crest centred in the middle.
The Force is commanded by the Commissioner of Police, who is assisted by two deputy commissioners; a "Deputy Commissioner – Operations" supervises all operational matters including crime and a "Deputy Commissioner – Management" is responsible for the direction and co-ordination of force management including personnel, training, and management services.
For day-to-day policing (Operations), the Force is organised into six regions:
- Hong Kong Island
- Kowloon East
- Kowloon West
- New Territories North
- New Territories South
- Marine Region
The Force Headquarters (Management) is made up of five departments:
- Operations & Support
- Crime & Security
- Personnel & Training
- Management Services
- Finance, Administration and Planning
Regions are largely autonomous in their day-to-day operation and management matters, and each has its own headquarters, which comprises administration and operation wings, Emergency Units, as well as traffic and criminal investigation units. Each region is divided into districts and divisions and, in a few cases, sub-divisions. Currently there are 23 districts. The policing of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the main towns of the New Territories follows a similar pattern. Responsibility for law and order on the Mass Transit Railway, which runs through most police districts, lies with the Railway District.
'A' Department (Operations and Support)
Police Force operational matters are coordinated by the Operations & Support Department. Land Operations and Support are divided into six regions, whereas marine matters are managed by the marine police—organised as one Marine Region. Each land region comprises two wings, the operations wing and support wing, and a traffic headquarters (which is part of the operations wing). The department is charged with the formulation and implementation of policies, the monitoring of activities and the efficient deployment of personnel and resources. Operations Wing coordinates counter terrorism, internal security, anti illegal-immigration measures, bomb disposal commitments and contingency planning for natural disasters—they are also responsible for the Police Dog Unit.
The Operations Wing consists of three sections: Operations Bureau, the Police Tactical Unit and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau.
- Operations Bureau: Comprises the Operations Division, the Counter-Terrorism and Internal Security Division, and the Key Points and Search Division which includes the Police Dog Unit. It deals mainly with the staffing of operational matters which include the formulation and dissemination of relevant Force orders, boundary security, deployment of resources and liaison with the Hong Kong garrison.
- Operations Division
- Regional Command and Control Centre provides the means for exercising control over resources both at regional and district levels. It also acts as an information centre for the passage of information to the Headquarters CCC and other agencies. Equipped with the Enhanced Computer Assisted Command and Control System, each Centre receives 999 calls from the public and provides a fast and efficient service to operational officers.
- Emergency Unit comprises the ordinary uniformed policemen. The unit is primarily tasked with regular patrol beats as well as providing quick responses to emergency situations such as 999 calls, as well as a speedy and additional presence of uniformed police on the ground to combat crime. An EU comprises a headquarters element and four platoons which operate on a three-shift basis.
- Operations Division
- Police Tactical Unit
- Counter Terrorism Response Unit (CTRU) created in 2009 as a means to deal with terror threats in Hong Kong. The unit initially trained with the NYPD Hercules Team.
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau is a special standalone unit within the Operations and Support Wing. Its main responsibilities are bomb disposal work both on land and underwater. It also trains officers on explosives related matters and inspects storage of ammunition and explosives.
- The Anti-Illegal Immigration Control Centre is responsible for collecting intelligence and monitoring operations in respect to illegal immigrants from the Mainland and Vietnam.
- Administration Formation implements policies laid down by the Regional Commander and is responsible for the Region's general administration. Its responsibilities include community relations, staff relations, and magistrates.
- Crime Formation; investigates serious and inter-district crimes. In addition, it collects, collates and evaluates intelligence on criminals and criminal activity within the Region.
- The Traffic Branch Headquarters covers traffic control, enforcement of traffic legislation and regulations, investigation of traffic accidents, promotion of road safety, and implementing Force and Regional traffic policies.
There are Support Wings in each of the land regions. A Support Wing oversees the execution and staffing of operational support matters, including the formulation of operational policies for both the regular and Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force and for updating kits and equipment. It is also responsible for the various licensing functions of the Force. The co-ordination of all public relations activities is arranged through the Police Public Relations Branch. There are three branches in a support wing:
- Traffic Branch Headquarters is responsible for formulating force priorities, policies and procedures on matters related to traffic, co-ordinating their implementation and monitoring their effects. It processes all traffic prosecutions such as the processing of traffic summons and fixed penalty tickets. It also collects and maintains traffic-related data such as monitoring the changes in traffic legislation. The Traffic Headquarters offers advice on traffic management matters, examines local traffic patterns and new major infrastructure projects. It also formulates, monitors, coordinates and evaluates road safety efforts, enforcement programmes and traffic management schemes. It is also responsible for the administration of the Traffic Warden Corps, who assist the Police in the control of traffic and enforcement of parking offences. It comprises the Traffic Management Bureau, Central Traffic Prosecutions Bureau and Administration Bureau.
- Support Branch is sub-divided into five divisions:
- Field Division is responsible for co-ordinating policy matters relating to firearms, equipment, uniforms and operational procedures. Projects undertaken by the Division during the year included the force-wide introduction of the OC Foam and the new, expandable baton. It had also been instrumental in developing technological solutions to a number of policing problems and is currently conducting a review of police uniforms including the cap and the shoes as well as other accoutrements.
- General Division handles policy matters relating to station procedures; the security and management of the Police Headquarters (PHQ) complex; and diverse other duties. During the year, the Division played a major role in the streamlining of station procedures; making arrangements for the reallocation of offices and facilities; formulating a new policy for parking at the PHQ as required by the PHQ Redevelopment Project and such other duties as co-ordinating the Force involvement in the District Council elections.
- Transport Division is responsible for the management and deployment of the Force fleet of approximately 2,400 vehicles, driver establishment and the acquisition of new police vehicles. It also administers all policy matters relating to police transport requirements.
- Force Data and Access to Information Co-ordination Unit is responsible for co-ordinating the Force response to devising internal policy on and ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance and the Code on Access to Information.
- Police Licensing Office acts as the licensing authority for a number of licences and permits.
- Police Public Relations Branch is responsible for maintaining a high level of public confidence by robustly projecting a positive image of the Force through community and media relations. It is sub-divided into two branches:
- Community Relations Bureau
- The Information and Publicity Bureau
Officer conducting radar checks at a cross-over bridge in Wan Chai
Traffic control during the 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay
Force Escort Units amassed on Connaught Road during the Umbrella Revolution
Riot police in a standoff with protesters during the Umbrella Revolution
"B" Department (Crime and Security)
Crime & Security Department is responsible for the force policy regarding the investigation of crimes and matters of a security nature. Crime Wing consists of a number of operational bureaux and specialised units. The operational bureaux deal with specific areas of criminal activity whereas the specialised units provide support services to operational units in the force and deal with policy matters on various issues including child abuse, domestic violence and witness protection. Security Wing provides VIP protection and security co-ordination, including counter-terrorism.
- Organised Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB or O記) investigate major organised and serious crime involving all types of activities such as theft/smuggling of vehicles, human trafficking, firearms, vice, debt collection, syndicated gambling and extortion. It also investigates triad societies and their hierarchies with particular emphasis on their involvement in organised crime.
- Criminal Intelligence Bureau (CIB) is the Force's central co-ordinating body for intelligence on crime and criminality which, after analysis and assessment, is disseminated to crime investigation units as required. In addition, the CIB works closely with the OCTB and other Crime Wing bureaux in tackling triad and organised crime syndicates. To strengthen the criminal intelligence capability within the Force, the Bureau also organises related training courses and seminars for investigators. Criminal Investigation Division or CID are sub-division located in each district.
- Commercial Crime Bureau (CCB) investigates serious commercial and business fraud, computer-related crimes, the forgery of monetary instruments, identity documents and payment cards, and the counterfeiting of currency and coins. It liaises very closely with international law enforcement agencies on exchange of intelligence and requests for investigation from other jurisdictions alleging criminal conduct in relation to commercial transactions.
- Narcotics Bureau (NB) investigates serious drug cases such as importation and manufacture of illicit drugs, and gathers intelligence in relation to major drug activities. It also conducts investigations in partnership with overseas law enforcement agencies whenever there is a Hong Kong connection to international drug trafficking. The Bureau is also responsible for financial investigations using powers granted under the Drug Trafficking (Recovery of Proceeds) Ordinance, Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance and the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Ordinance.
- Support Group is made up of units which provide a technical and professional service to support criminal investigation, including Criminal Records Bureau, Identification Bureau, Forensic Firearms Examination Bureau, Witness Protection Unit and Child Protection Policy Unit. The group also fulfils a liaison responsibility for the Forensic pathology Service and the Forensic Science Division.
"C" Department (Personnel and Training)
- Personnel Wing is responsible for all core human resource management functions, including recruitment, promotion, conditions of service, staff relations and welfare matters.
In recent years, the Personnel Wing has also asserted the near exclusive right to adjudicate disciplinary proceedings brought against Inspectors and Junior Officers. The establishment of a dedicated unit for this purpose made it easier for senior officers in the Personnel Wing to influence outcomes.
- Hong Kong Police College is responsible for all matters relating to training within the Hong Kong Police except internal security, Auxiliary and Marine Police training. Training provided by the Police College includes recruit and continuation training, crime investigation training, police driver training and weapon tactics training. The information technology training, command training, local and overseas management training, some specialist courses and periodic courses on firearms and first aid are also provided by the Police College.
- Hong Kong Police Band
"D" Department (Management Services)
Information Systems Wing has two branches and one bureau dealing with communications, information technology and business services. Communications Branch designs, acquires, examines and maintains all force communications networks and equipment including radio, video, navigational aids, speed detection radar, mobile phones, pagers, office telephones and mini firing range equipment.
Information Technology Branch is responsible for the planning, development, implementation, operation and maintenance of information technology systems. It has over 10,000 terminals installed throughout Hong Kong supporting the Force in the spheres of command and control, criminal records, crime intelligence analysis, fingerprint identification, reports to Police, human and financial resources planning and management, transport management, licensing, and e-mail.
Business Services Bureau coordinates the business needs of the five departments of the Force. It consists of the Business Services Division, the e-Police Division and the Major Systems Division which acts as the System "Owner" for systems used Force-wide.
Service Quality Wing is responsible for spearheading initiatives to improve services provided to force customers both external and internal. The wing comprises three branches: Performance Review, Research and Inspections and Complaints and Internal Investigations (C&II). The Wing is responsible for implementing the force strategy on 'service quality' which aims at promoting efficiency, effectiveness and economy, whilst pursuing continuous improvement. The C&II Branch which includes the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO) oversees the investigation and successful resolution of all complaints made both externally and internally against members of the force. The work of CAPO is closely monitored by the Independent Police Complaints Council to ensure that all complaints against police officers and traffic wardens are fully and impartially investigated. The findings of CAPO are then endorsed by the IPCC subject to their queries which is not rare after the enactment of IPCC Ordinance in 2009.
"E" Department (Finance, Administration & Planning)
Finance Wing is responsible for the financial management, stores and internal audit of the Force. Administration Wing is responsible for civilian staff, force establishment matters and the management of the Police Museum. Planning and Development Branch (P&D) coordinates strategic thinking and planning on options for the operational policing of Hong Kong into the foreseeable future. It is responsible for maintaining and modernising the police estate and for running projects for the construction of new police buildings/facilities.
Ranks and insignia
The HKPF continues to use similar ranks and insignia to those used in British police forces. Until 1997, the St Edward's Crown was used in the insignia, when it was replaced with the Bauhinia flower crest of the Hong Kong government. The crest of the force was modified in 1997. The rank structure, organisation and insignia are similar to those used by the Metropolitan Police Service until the mid-1970s.
- Commissioner of Police (CP) (crest over pip over wreathed and crossed batons)
- Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) (crest over wreathed and crossed batons)
- Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SACP) (pip over wreathed and crossed batons)
- Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) (wreathed and crossed batons)
- Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) (crest over two pips)
- Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) (crest over pip)
- Superintendent of Police (SP) (crest)
- Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) (three pips)
- Senior Inspector of Police (SIP) (two pips over bar)
- Inspector of Police (IP) (two pips)
- Probationary Inspector of Police (PI) (pip)
- Station Sergeant (SSGT) (wreathed crest)
- Sergeant (SGT) (three upward-pointing chevrons)
- Senior Constable (SPC) (upward-pointing chevron)
- Police Constable (PC) (slide with ID number)
Hong Kong Police Force uniform currently comprises:
Dark navy blue jacket with the words Police, in English and Chinese, in reflective white tape, on the front left breast and back. Light blue shirts are worn by most officers, whilst white shirts are worn by senior officers. Dark blue cargo trousers and black caps are worn by all officers.
E.g. EU, PTU and CTRU: Wear uniform identical to Uniform Branch officers, although berets are worn rather than caps and trousers are tucked into boots. Riot helmets are worn for riot control.
Reflective yellow jacket and navy blue riding trousers. In warmer weather, reflective vests with white sleeves are an alternative.
- white or dark tunic
- sword - based on 1897 pattern British infantry officer's sword and used for formal occasions such as parade out or Legal Opening Day
- Summer Uniform: Green Khaki drill tropical shirts and trousers or Bermuda shorts, worn with black Sam Browne Belts. Females wore summer beige shirts with skirts. This uniform was worn until about 2004 when the force switched to a slightly modernised version of the Winter Uniform, to be worn all year round. The Green uniform can be seen in some of the older Hong Kong and Hollywood movies.
- Winter Uniform: Light blue shirts with necktie, worn under a navy blue tunic and Sam Browne Belt, with navy blue uniform trousers.
Most police vehicles in Hong Kong are white, with a blue and red 3M retroreflective stripe around on the sides of the vehicle with wording "警 Police 察" in white, the only exception being the armoured personnel carriers specially designed for the Police Tactical Unit, which are wholly dark blue and with wording "警 Police 察" on a light blue background in white on the sides of the vehicle. Most police vehicles in Hong Kong are equipped with both red and blue emergency vehicle lighting. The vehicles which are assigned to airport duties have additional yellow emergency vehicle lighting. It should be noted that all police vehicles are government property and so bear licence plates starting with "AM".
Since 2008, the Hong Kong Police Force have brought in the use of Battenburg markings for new police vehicles of the Traffic Branch Headquarters. In addition, these new vehicles show the Force crest on the front part of the vehicle, which the Force has not used in the design of new vehicles for the last two decades.
The Hong Kong Police Force have unmarked police vehicles to catch and arrest criminals in the act; such vehicles include the discreet and high performance BMW M5 cars, among other types. Also, the Force operate unmarked police vehicles for surveillance to gather evidence of any criminal offence. In addition, for security purposes, armoured cars specially designed for the VIP Protection Unit (VIPPU) and bulletproof tactical police vehicles specially designed for the Special Duties Unit have no markings also.
The Hong Kong Police Force has ordered 10 new electric scooters for their officers to help reduce pollution in central Hong Kong.
|Smith & Wesson Model 10 (United States)||Service revolver and firearm of HKPF. Used by PTU, EU, PSU, Rural Patrol Team (RPT), Border Patrol Unit (BPU), Task Force Sub Unit (TFSU) in operations and HKPC for training issues. Also issued to the HKAPF officers.|
|SIG Sauer P250 Dcc (USA/Switzerland/Germany)||Standard semi-auto pistol for crime-investigation units of HKPF and the replacement handgun for Colt Detective Special. Used by District Crime Squad (DCS), Regional Crime Unit (RCU), District Anti Triad Squad (DATS), Regional Anti Triad Unit (RATU), Special Duty Squad (SDS), Regional Special Duty Squad (RSDS), CID, OCTB, CIB, CCB, Support Group (SG), NB in operations and HKPC for training issues.|
|Glock 17 / Glock 19 (Austria)|-||Standard semi-auto pistol for special units of HKPF. Used by SDU, VIPPU / G4, ASU, CTRU, SBDIV, WPU, Hit Team in operations and HKPC for training issues|
|Heckler & Koch MP5 (Germany)||Standard SMG of HKPF. Various variants used by ASU, SDU, Marine Region, CTRU, OCTB, CIB, SSU, NB, VIPPU / G4, EU, SBDIV, WPU in operations and HKPC for training issues|
|Remington 870 (United States)||Standard shotgun of HKPF. Used by CIB, EU, Hit Team, OCTB, NB, PTU, SDU (both long and short barrel for SDU only) in operations and HKPC for training issues. Also issued to the HKAPF officers in a small quantity.|
|Colt AR-15 (United States)||Used by PTU and ASU in operations and HKPC for training issues|
|Benelli M1 Super 90 (Italy)||Used by SDU and ASU|
|Heckler & Koch G36KV (Germany)||Used by SDU|
|Colt M4 (United States)||Used by SDU, Maritime Emergency Response Team (MERT)|
|KAC SR-25 (United States)||Used by SDU|
|Accuracy International L96A1 (United Kingdom)||Used by SDU|
|SIG Sauer SSG 2000 (Switzerland/Germany)||Used by SDU|
|M16 rifle (United States)||Used by SDU (A1/A2) and ASU|
|Federal M201-Z (United States)||Used by PTU and EU|
|M1911 (United States)||Standard semi-auto pistol for Hit Team before replaced by Glock 17 pistol|
|Mini-14 (United States)||Standard SMG for Hit Team before replaced by MP5 SMG|
|Colt Detective Special (United States)||Standard revolver for DCS, RCU, DAT, RATU, SDS, RSDS, CID, OCTB, CIB, CCB, SG, NB and HKPC before replaced by SIG Sauer P250 pistol|
|Browning Hi Power Mark III (Belgium)||Standard semi-auto pistol for ASU, SDU and HKPC before replaced by Glock 17 pistol|
|Ithaca 37 (United States)||Used by SDU|
|Motorola scanner (United States)||Standard police scanner for HKPF. Used by PTU, EU, PSU, RPT and BPU. MTP750 with receiver, MTM700, MTM800 for Police Vehicles and EU Vehicles|
|Flashlight (United States)||Used by all units as light options.|
|Handcuffs (United Kingdom)||British made models, used by all units as restrains.|
|Sabre Red Pepper Spray (United States)||Mk. 3 and Mk. 9 models, used by all units as less than lethal options.|
|Expandable Baton (United States)||18-inch models by Phoenix and 21-inch models by ASP Inc., used by all units as less than lethal options.|
|Speedloader (United States)||Used by officers armed with revolvers. 12 rounds of ammunition are issued.|
|Spare magazine (Austria/Switzerland/Germany)||Used by officers armed with semi-automatic pistols. Various number of rounds are issued based on the unit.|
|Swiss Army knife (Switzerland)||Used by PTU, EU, PSU, RPT, BPU and ASU|
|Police Log Book (Hong Kong)||Used by all patrolling units|
|Hatch BNG190 Gloves (United States)||Used by all units|
|Mark 3 Knife (United States)||Used by SDU and CTRU.|
|First Aid Kit (United States)||Used by all units as first aid options.|
|Cell Phone (United States)||Used by all units as communication options.|
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau
- AB Precision Cyclops EOD ROV
- Wheelbarrow (EOD) robot
Post-war Royal Police
Immediately after the war, corruption was rife within the Royal Hong Kong Police, as it was then known. The colonial administration had been very much afraid to tackle the issue, fearing a complete disintegration of law and order. However, public discontent about the police was on the rise, and the government started investigation into senior officers. The flight of Peter Godber, who had amassed HK$4.3 million, for Britain just shy of his retirement caused a great deal of public concern and prompted the establishment of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in 1974. Many officers fled the colony, some for Taiwan, and the ICAC caseload peaked in 1977 and an amnesty was offered to quell unrest within police ranks. Since the 1980s, the HK Police has a strong track record for fighting crime, and has thus enjoyed the reputation of one of the most professional, efficient, honest and impartial police forces in the Asia Pacific region. The force enjoyed the esteem and confidence of Hong Kong public, as demonstrated by the University of Hong Kong opinion polls between 1997 and 2007, at which point it started to slide. Peak of popularity was achieved in 2007, with a net approval rating of 79 percentage points.
Andy Tsang and beyond
Although the media has often dubbed it "Asia's Finest", its reputation has taken a serious drubbing under the leadership of the hawkish Andy Tsang, Commissioner between 2011 and 2015. As a result of Tsang's unpopular decisions and comments, the public have nicknamed him "The Vulture". Approval rating of the police declined markedly from mid-2012, and it plummeted to net approval of 21 percentage points in early 2015.
According to a leader in the Wall Street Journal, Tsang is responsible for the politicisation of the police during his tenure, and aligning policing objectives with the state rather than in the interests of justice. The manner in which police officers have appeared to condone or turn a blind eye to assaults against certain groups, particularly heavy-handed treatment of protesters during the "Umbrella Revolution", notably procedural escalation of police violence in the face of protesters, through deployment of riot police and 87 instances in which tear gas was released to disperse unarmed students, has also caused disquiet among the public and senior police staffers alike.
Under Tsang, incidents of police harassment of protesters have increased; the notable failure to prosecute in the highly publicised incident involving the assault by seven officers of a protester on 15 October also impacted its reputation. These apparently partisan actions have led to accusations that the police has been turned into a political tool in a governance system that is seeing an erosion of the rule of law in favour of "rule by law". Fung Wai-wah, president of the Professional Teachers' Union, commented that "the police [during the Umbrella Revolution] have made themselves enemy of the people", literally overnight.
Incidents in 2010s
Since 2014, there have been reports of police officers involved in sexual assaults on female victims. In one high profile case involving an officer with six years' service molesting a female within Police Headquarters toilet, the officer was convicted of indecent assault and abuse of power. There had been an incident in 2008, when a woman was raped inside Mong Kok police station by a policeman.
Excessive use of force
|seven plainclothes policemen assaulting a handcuffed protester on 15 November|
Police were criticised for reacting too lightly and too late when protesters were under attack in October 2014, as well as for allegedly colluding with triads and thugs against peaceful protesters. Seven police officers were suspended after a video tape surfaced of them beating a handcuffed protester in police custody on 15 October 2014, sparking outrage and accusations of police brutality. In December 2014, public satisfaction with the police had declined to 56% (from 62.3% five months earlier); its net satisfaction rate plunged to a record low of 29%, the lowest level since 1997 and lower than that of the PLA Hong Kong Garrison. Pollsters drew the conclusion that the sharp decline was due to policing actions during the 2014 protests, and said that to repair its reputation, the police would need to "strengthen its professionalism in executing its duties, and also its affection and care for the society. It should not lean towards any political force, nor resort to improper means, just let political problems be resolved in political ways".
Harbouring criminal suspects
The police department came under fire for failing to press charges against police superintendent Franklin Chu King-wai, now retired, who was filmed beating up an innocent civilian with a police baton in Mong Kok. He was filmed allegedly beating several passers-by with a baton in Mong Kok on 26 November 2014. The day before Chu was due to retire in July 2015, the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) established by a majority that a complaint against Chu was justified. The internal Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO) disagreed and sought advice from DOJ. Similarly, seven plainclothes police officers who were filmed by TVB crew beating up Ken Tsang Kin-chiu in a dark street corner were indicted one year after the alleged beating. The police officers have yet to face charges after more than 20 months.
Misuse of Care and Protection Orders
In December 2014, the police caused concern when they applied for Care and Protection Orders (CPO) for two youths, one of whom was arrested during the protests. Police arrested one 14-year-old male for contempt of court during the clearance of Mong Kok and applied for a CPO. The CPO was cancelled four weeks later when the Department of Justice decided that they would not prosecute. In a second case, a 14-year-old female who drew a chalk flower onto the Lennon Wall on 23 December 2014 was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, but was not charged. A magistrate decided in favour of a CPO pursuant to a police application, deeming it "safer". The incident created uproar as she was taken away from her hearing-impaired father, and was unable to go to school. On 19 January, another magistrate rescinded the protection order for "Chalk Girl" after reviewing a report from a social worker. The handling of the situation by the police raised concerns, as there was no explanation as to why the police failed to locate and consult a social worker before applying for the order in accordance with proper procedures. Use of the device against minors involved in the Umbrella movement was seen as "white terror" to deter young people from protesting.
False testimonies by police officers
In April 2015, police reputation suffered a further blow when a student accused by a police officer of attacking him during the clearance of the Mong Kok occupation on 28 November 2014 was acquitted. In three written statements and during questioning at the witness stand, Constable Lau Kam-wing accused the defendant of approaching him from the front and hitting him in the mouth. Video evidence submitted by an independent witness clearly showed that Lau was in a highly agitated state, and that the defendant was behind him and had not assaulted Lau. Lau changed his testimony under questioning, and again in light of the video evidence. The judge observed that the case was "highly suspicious" and that the defendant had been falsely accused; he criticised Lau's wavering testimony and reproached him for being a dishonest and thus unreliable witness. The judge ordered the incident to be referred to the police complaints department, and asked to be kept informed of the progress of the investigation.
Setup and framing of innocent autistic suspect
In May 2015, a man was arrested, detained from 2–4 May for in excess of 48 hours and wrongfully accused of murder. The man was autistic, and the police failure to handle such a case sparked controversy. According to the police, the suspect made a written confession of an assault that contradicted severely with statements obtained whilst interviewed with family members. A nursing home later offered the suspect an alibi, corroborated with video evidence, that the man could not have been at the alleged crime scene. Civil rights activists condemned the incident which traumatised a vulnerable individual, and criticised the police procedures including not proposing legal representation, lengthy detention, an methods for obtaining a bogus confession. The police chief expressed "regret" but refused to make an apology. Also in May 2015, police procedures for conducting identity parades attracted controversy when suspects in an assault case on television reporters were allowed to wear shower caps and face masks during an identity parade, ostensibly to cover distinctive features, leading to the police abandoning the case due to insufficient evidence. The police stance was confirmed by the new Chief Commissioner.
In mid-September, media reported that the police had made material deletions from its website concerning "police history", in particular, the political cause and the identity of the groups responsible for the 1967 riots. Mention of communists and Maoists were expunged: for example, "Bombs were made in classrooms of left-wing schools and planted indiscriminately on the streets" became "Bombs were planted indiscriminately on the streets"; the fragment "waving aloft the Little Red Book and shouting slogans" disappeared, and an entire sentence criticising the hypocrisy of wealthy pro-China businessmen, the so-called "red fat cats" was deleted. The editing gave rise to criticisms that it was being sanitised, to make it appear that the British colonial government, rather than leftists, were responsible. Stephen Lo, the new Commissioner of Police, said the content change of the official website was to simplify it for easier reading; Lo denied that there were any political motives, but his denials left critics unconvinced.
In October 2015 the Police Public Relations Bureau launched a Facebook page in a bid to improve its public image. The page was immediately inundated with tens of thousands of critical comments, many asking why the seven officers who beat the handcuffed protester a year earlier had not been arrested. In response, the police held a press conference and warned of "criminal consequences" for online behaviour.
Stolen bail money incident
A police sergeant at the Wan Chai Police Station allegedly absconded on 1 May 2016 with HK$1.07 million (US$140,000) in bail funds. A man remanded on bail who reported to the station on 25 May claimed that an officer told him that the police could not be held liable for the missing money, and made him sign a waiver of claims in relation to the bail money he had posted previously. Although police public relations quickly apologised for the "misunderstanding" that had occurred at the Wan Chai station, media criticised top management for being equivocal and evasive about the accountability of the station and also about whether the police officers responsible for the waiver response would be disciplined.
In popular culture
The Hong Kong Police Force and its previous incarnation have been the subject of many films and television shows, including the locally produced Police Story film series, The Criminal Investigator, Infernal Affairs film series and Cold War. English language films featuring the HKPF include Rush Hour.
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- Hong Kong Police Force
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First in Order of Precedence
|Hong Kong Police Force||Succeeded by
Independent Commission Against Corruption