on 14 April 1997
LegCo Panel on Security
Measures to Prevent
"Fabrication of Evidence"
This paper informs Members of the measures to prevent the occurrence of innocent persons being framed by Police officers. It also elaborates on the complaints handling procedure and the penalties imposed on the Police officers concerned if the complaint is substantiated.
2. The Commissioner of Police takes a serious view on framing of innocent persons by Police officers. The vision of the Police Force is to preserve Hong Kong as one of the safest cities in the world. The Police Force understand that maintaining public confidence is of utmost importance in realising the vision of the Force. As such, integrity and honesty are the Forces most treasured values. The Force have no place for those officers who use illegal means to tackle crimes.
3. The Police consider that the best way to prevent the occurrence of Police officers framing innocent persons is to enhance the quality of Police officers and improve the procedures in handling evidence, coupled with the strengthening of the complaints system. This approach is implemented by way of -
- enhancing the quality of police officers through careful recruitment and training. The percentage of Police Constable recruits who are academically qualified for Probationary Inspectors rose from 18.4% in the financial year of 1988/89 to 24.3% of 1992/93 and further to 33.6% in 1996/97. This reflects the improvement in quality of the front-line Police officers;
- inculcating a high standard of ethics and values among Police officers through different channels;
- placing "integrity and honesty" first among the eight values in the "Vision and Statement of Common Purpose and Values";
- examination of all evidence to be presented before the Court for prosecution of all criminal cases by officers of or above the rank of inspector in order to determine their reliability and cogency;
- taking a serious view on Police officers framing persons and instituting criminal/disciplinary actions against officers concerned by the Police Force senior management; and
- enhancing the existing complaint system comprising CAPO with oversight by Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) to ensure that any complaint against Police officers, including fabrication of evidence, will be thoroughly investigated. In addition, we also propose to make IPCC a statutory body to enhance its monitoring and reviewing functions in the Police complaints system.
4. The above measures are strengthened by the gradual introduction of video-taping interviews in 1993. Video-taping interviews give both the Police officers and the interviewees extra protection from unfounded allegations. The Police currently has 11 video interview rooms at selected bureaux, regional crime headquarters and Detective Training School. These rooms are mostly used in serious crimes. The Police consider video-taping interviews very effective and will bring the number of video interview rooms to 20 in the financial year of 1997/98. In parallel, Police officers have been trained up to take statements when the interviews are being videotaped.
Complaints Handling Procedure
5. CAPO will investigate all "FOE" complaints. For more serious complaints, CAPO has a dedicated crime team headed by a Chief Inspector to handle the complaints. To ensure a fair and impartial investigation, CAPO will not delegate a "FOE" investigation to the Police Division in which the complainee is working. The complaints investigation procedures are set out clearly in the Police General Orders.
6. In all cases, CAPO will submit a full report on the investigation of the complaint to the IPCC. The IPCC is an independent body. It is made up of a wide spectrum of community personalities appointed by the Governor. Except the Ombudsman, all members of the IPCC are non-official members. The main function of the IPCC is to monitor and review the investigations by CAPO. The results of CAPO investigations are subject to endorsement by IPCC. Any doubts on the adequacy or discrepancies of the investigation are taken up with CAPO. If not satisfied with CAPOs investigation, IPCC can draw a case to the attention of the Governor.
Penalties on Police Officers
7. If a Police officer is found to be at fault, CAPO would either institute legal proceeding or impose disciplinary action on the officer concerned. CAPO would seek advice from the Attorney Generals Chambers to decide if there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the officer concerned. In general, "FOE" cases would be charged under "perverting the course of public justice" in the common law and subject to a maximum imprisonment term for 7 years and unlimited fine.
8. The Police Force management is determined to enshrine "integrity and honesty" in the Forces culture. On top of that, Hong Kong is an open society with various channels of complaints open to the public so that any grievances will receive appropriate attention.
Last Updated on 21 August 1998