Police strive to enhance road safety and facilitate media reporting
Hong Kong (HKSAR) - Police will continue to enhance road safety through the three-pronged approach of enforcement, education and publicity.
The remarks were made by the Director of Operations, Mr Hung Hak-wai, today (August 2) at a press conference to review the crime situation in Hong Kong in the first half of 2012.
Reviewing general road safety in Hong Kong, Mr Hung said the number of traffic accidents in the first six months of 2012 was 7,648, representing an increase of 277 compared with the same period last year. The number of fatal traffic accidents also increased by one to 56.
Overall traffic enforcement actions totalled 724,966 in the first half of 2012, representing an increase of 15 per cent compared with 631,682 in the same period last year.
A total of 478 persons were arrested for drink driving in the first six months, a slight decrease compared with 506 arrested persons in the corresponding period last year.
The number of arrests arising from drink driving-related traffic accidents in the first six months of this year had however increased to 117 persons, compared with 101 in the same period last year.
In view of the substantial growth in drug driving cases in 2010, the Administration introduced legislative amendments and the Road Traffic (Amendment) Ordinance 2011 came into operation on March 15, 2012.
The new drug driving legislation has created new offences of driving motor vehicles after the use or consumption of specified illicit drugs, commonly known as "zero tolerance" offence; and driving under the influence of drugs.
As of June 30, 2012, 29 drivers have been arrested for various drug driving offences, including 18 arrested after the new law came into operation.22 of them were believed to have consumed Ketamine.
In the first half of 2012, there were 1,147 cycling related accidents, representing an increase of 9 per cent over the same period last year.The number of fatal cycling accident decreased by three to five.
"The increase in cycling related accidents in recent years is attributed to the increase in cycling activities, as a means of a transport or as a sport," Mr Hung said.
"To address concerns over cycling safety, Police have taken stringent enforcement action against all cycling offences.A total of 6,153 verbal warnings and 5,962 summonses had been issued against cycling offences in the first half of 2012, up 7 per cent and 70 per cent respectively over the same period in 2011."
Mr Hung said 'pedestrian safety', 'cycling safety', 'anti-drug driving' and 'anti-drink driving' are the themes for road safety campaigns in 2012-13. Police will continue to adopt a multi-agency approach to enhance road safety in Hong Kong through publicity, education and enforcement.
Turning to the issue of illegal immigrants, Mr Hung said the number of Mainland illegal immigrants (MIIs) showed a downward trend in the first six months of 2012 and 685 MIIs were arrested, representing a decrease of 111 compared with the same period last year.
He said that 54 MIIs were arrested for criminal offences from January to June this year, a decrease of 20 over the same period last year. The main offences committed by MIIs were theft, forgery, and aiding and abetting illegal immigrants.
In addition, 75 female MIIs were arrested for prostitution, a decrease of 36 compared with the same period last year.
In the first six months of this year, 189 non-ethnic Chinese illegal immigrants (NEC IIs) were arrested, an increase of 74 over the same period last year.
Fifteen NEC IIs were arrested for committing crimes, an increase of 13 over the same period last year.
The offences committed by them were relatively minor, namely theft, taking conveyance without authority and immigration offences.
Regarding crimes committed by Mainland visitors (MVs), Mr Hung said from January to June in 2012, there were 15.47 million MV arrivals, a rise of 2.88 million over the same period last year. Among them, 667 were arrested for committing criminal offences, an increase of 87 compared with the same period last year. The main offences committed by MVs were theft, forgery, serious assault and immigration offences such as possession of a forged ID card.
Between January and June this year, 1,562 MVs were arrested for involvement in prostitution, representing a decrease of 192 over the same period last year.
A total of 616 illegal Mainland workers were also arrested in the past six months, an increase of eight over the same period last year.
Mr Hung said: "Police will continue adopting the three-level approach including effective screening at all immigration control points and enhancing local enforcement with other law enforcement agencies to tackle the problem of Mainland visitors committing crime."
Turning to the relationship with the media, Mr Hung said Police always respect the public's right to information and the media's freedom of reporting. The Force also fully recognises the importance of facilitating media reporting and maintaining effective communication with them and will take measures to facilitate media reporting as far as practicable.
Police have recently completed the review of the press area policy. Under the policy, in principle, it is not necessary to designate a press area in public place where other members of the public are allowed free access, unless the designation of such area may give a vantage point for the news media to facilitate their coverage.
In such case, reporters are still free to move in and out of that press area.
In circumstances where the public may not be allowed free access in public place such as in the Border Close Area and the Airport Restricted Area; during security operations or ceremonial events; or when a police cordon is set up for operational or investigative purpose in a crime scene, a traffic accident or other emergency incident, Police will consider setting up a designated press area to facilitate media coverage.
If a designated press area is set up outside a police cordon, reporters will expect to have the right to move freely in and out of the press area. If the reporters' movements are to be confined within the press area, the Commander will communicate the reasons to the reporters there and then or notify the media through PPRB.
When Police consider necessary and practicable to set up a press area inside a police cordon to facilitate coverage, reporters' movement will be restrained and Police may need to inspect their hand carry belongings, such as handbags or backpacks. If due to space constraints or overriding operational considerations that open coverage by all media representatives is not possible, pool coverage will be arranged.
"Police have taken the views of the media into full consideration when reviewing the press area policy.
We believe that the arrangements balance the need for media reporting without affecting Police operation. The policy is already implemented in July," Mr Hung added.
As regards the dissemination of information of unforeseen incidents, Police have adopted various improvement measures, including increasing PPRB newsroom's manpower and issuing more case briefs. After implementing the measures, there was a significant increase in the number of cases disseminated, reaching an average of 300 cases per day in June 2012.
"We are studying the use of information technology to further improve the procedures for information dissemination and to provide more basic information. In the long run, Police are exploring the feasibility of setting up an interactive platform for disseminating information of unforeseen incidents. The study is already underway."
Mr Hung reiterated that Police respect press freedom and the right of media reporting.
The Force will continue to maintain a close partnership with the media on the basis of mutual respect and understanding, provide necessary assistance and strengthen co-operation.
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