Hong Kong Law & Crime

Police watchdog upholds complaints against off-duty officers misusing credentials

The Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) says it has upheld two complaints relating to the behaviour of off-duty police officers.

In its latest newsletter issued last Friday, the watchdog said an off-duty police officer had been subjected to a disciplinary review after carelessly tailing a post office vehicle with his private car.

police

File Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

The IPCC newsletter stated that the vehicle chase happened in the New Territories, but did not provide further details.

“The police constable, who was dissatisfied with the driving manner of the complainant, overtook the complainant’s vehicle,” wrote the IPCC. “The police constable finally stopped his car to block the complainant’s way and even reversed his car, causing the complainant to brake abruptly.”

When the post worker became involved in an argument with the off-duty officer, the latter disclosed his police identity. The post worker lodged complaints of misconduct and impoliteness against the officer.

The officer was then convicted in court of careless driving, and received a HK$3,000 fine.

police

File Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The IPCC classified the complaints as substantiated, and said it “considered that the police constable should not have revealed his police identity.” The police force subjected the officer to a disciplinary review.

Influencing complainants

Another substantiated complaint of misconduct concerned a family member of an off-duty officer who bumped another vehicle while alighting from a private car. The off-duty officer revealed his police identity to the occupant of the bumped vehicle, and an argument ensued.

“The crux of the allegation is whether the police constable… had intended to influence the complainant to not pursue the traffic incident,” wrote the IPCC.

While the police’s internal mechanism – the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO) – initially dismissed the complaint, the IPCC took a different view, deliberating that the office should substantiate the complaint. The police officer was given a warning.

Complaints Against Police Office

The Complaints Against Police Office. File photo: Hong Kong Police Force.

A final complaint featured in the newsletter related to allegations of an off-duty officer using excessive force while subduing a suspect at the Yau Ma Tei TMR station. It was classified as unsubstantiated.

Last month, the CAPO announced that the number of complaints against police in January and February this year rose by 47.8 per cent compared with the same months of 2016.

See also: Complaints against police rose 48% in first 2 months of the year

Local media have reported numerous cases of misconduct by off-duty officers in recent months. One was arrested on a charge of criminal damage after allegedly kicking down a wooden board at a Sheung Shui village last Monday, reported Ming Pao.

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Police watchdog upholds complaints against off-duty officers misusing credentials