60% Increase of Burglary in Yau Tsim Mong District, Police Admits Number of Patrolling has been Falling
While the Anti-Extradition movement is still continuing, the Hong Kong Police Force (hereinafter referred to as “police”) claimed the number of burglary and other robberies recorded in the second half of last year in Yau Tsim Mong District drastically escalated. A total of 151 cases of burglary was recorded alone in that period, which is equivalent to 1.65 times of last year’s number and the highest in 5 years. Assistant Commander (Crime) of Yau Tsim Mong District, TSANG Chung Bun said that the relentless anti-extradition protests have resulted in destruction of shops and public facilities, which might have triggered the effects of the Broken Window Theory and subsequently resulted in more crimes committed. However, pro-democracy councillor opposed, claiming the police did not patrol on the streets, that the police is attempting to shift the blame and shrink their responsibilities.
TSANG said that the recent social movement has demanded enormous amount of police assistance. As a result, patrolling became shorthanded that police were to patrol twice a day at 12-hour intervals instead of the original trice a day at 8-hour intervals. The Crime Investigation Department (CID) had to take part in patrolling occasionally. TSANG stressed that patrolling is only one of the many ways of stopping crime, “(Stopping crime) is not just about assigning a police officer to stand at a place”. He then said that the police will make up for reduced patrolling with more information services. However, there are occasions where CID officers had to work overtime to analyse crime information.
According to the latest numbers from the police, the Yau Tsim Mong Police District recorded a total of 204 cases of burglary in 2019, a 57% rise compared to the previous year. In addition, 21 cases of robbery were recorded in 2018 and 2019 respectively. In fact, 151 cases of burglary were recorded in the second half of 2019, which makes up 74% of the year’s total, and 47 cases and 104 cases were recorded in the second and fourth quarter of that year respectively. For robbery, 90% (19 out of 21) of the cases was recorded in the second half of year 2019. However, the police did not provide numbers of 2018 and therefore no year-on-year comparisons could be made.
TSANG cited the “Broken Window” criminology theory to explain how the number of crimes increased in the second half of last year. He claimed that the continuous protests “messed up the streets” and many masked protestors destroyed shops and public facilities but were not arrested. Many lawbreakers imitated the protestors and broke into shops and apartments with low securities.
TSANG used Yau Tsim Mong Police District as an example and said that everywhere was a black spot of crime under the effects of the Broken Window Theory. He deplored in sighs that even if some burglaries did not involve a large amount of money, for instance a South-Asian tenant of a subletting flat had his computer stolen, the resulting lost could still be huge for his family. He then stressed that the police will do their best in crime prevention. However, he could feel that the current social circumstances had caused distrust from citizens towards the police, which reduced the efficiency of crime-solving. He hoped that citizens could regain their confidences in the police.
In the case of Sin Kam Wah v HKSAR (2005) 8 HKCFAR 192, the Court of Final Appeal established 5 elements of Misfeasance in public office as the following:
(1) a public official;
(2) in the course of or in relation to his public office;
(3) wilfully misconducts himself; by act or omission, for example, by wilfully neglecting or failing to perform his duty;
(4) without reasonable excuse or justification; and
(5) where such misconduct is serious, not trivial, having regard to the responsibilities of the office and the officeholder, the importance of the public objects which they serve and the nature and extent of the departure from those responsibilities.