Hong Kong’s crime rate dropped by 7.1 per cent in 2014 from the previous year – marking a 41-year low, Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung announced today.
Speaking to legislators during a briefing on last year’s law and order situation, the overall crime rate was 936 cases per 100,000 people, Tsang said. This was the first time that the rate dipped below 1,000 cases since 1973.
A total of 67,740 crimes in all categories were reported last year, a 7.1 per cent year-on-year decrease. from 72,911 in 2013.
Among the 19 categories of crimes, robbery posted a decrease of 38.2 per cent in the number of cases and burglary fell 24.4 per cent.
As the crime rate dipped, so did arrests. A total of 33,679 people were arrested for crimes last year – an 8 per cent year-on-year drop.
“Compared with other large cities such as Singapore, Tokyo and Paris, Hong Kong’s overall crime rate is at a relatively low level”, making it one of the safest cities in the world, Tsang said.
Serious drug offences were also down by 18.2 per cent, wounding and serious assault down 8.7 per cent and criminal intimidation 4.9 per cent lower than 2013.
However, there were substantial increases in blackmail (20.7 per cent) and deception (17.9 per cent) cases, along with a slight uptick in shop thefts (up by 0.9 per cent).
The homicide figure rose by four cases from last year, excluding the 39 manslaughter cases from the Lamma Island ferry crash from 2013.
There were 8,861 deception cases last year – or 1,343 more than the previous year. Out of these cases, 978 were conducted using social media. Monetary losses from such scams rose 40 per cent to HK$70 million.
Tsang said most social media scams involved requests via instant-messaging apps for unwitting users to purchase online gaming tokens.
Victims of telephone scams – often where scammers falsely claim that a victim’s friends or relatives had been taken hostage – also lost a total of HK$45 million to fraudsters.
Of the 2,200 telephone scam cases reported to the police last year (constituting 173 more reports than in 2013), 70 per cent were failed attempts.
Some 43 mainlanders who travelled to Hong Kong on double-entry permits were arrested in connection with such phone scams.
Meanwhile, the overall crime detection rate edged up by 0.2 percentage points to 43.4 per cent last year. Tsang said detection rate was burdened by the difficulties in cracking technology crimes, which he said often requires the cooperation of overseas counterparts or internet service providers.
Asked by pro-Beijing lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok if the Occupy protests had strained police manpower thus had an impact on the overall detection rate, Tsang said: “A large number of CID [crime investigation department] officers had been deployed to handle the Occupy protests instead, but it is uncertain if it had any effect on the overall detection rate.”