Hong Kong Law & Crime

Police watchdog upgrades complaint over woman’s alleged strip search in room at MTR station

Chairman of Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) Larry Kwok says that the police watchdog has reclassified a case involving a woman allegedly strip searched by a police officer to reflect that there is evidence to support the claim.

In a column published on Tuesday detailing the work of the IPCC, Kwok wrote of an incident where a female complainant was suspected of taking money left by another bank customer at an ATM machine. She was taken to a room in the MTR station by a female officer.

police

Photo: HKFP/Tom Grundy.

The complainant alleged that the officer in question asked her to take off all her clothes for a search, but nothing was found. She then filed a complaint saying that the officer abused her powers when such a request had not been necessary.

Kwok said that the Complaints Against Police Office had initially listed it as “unsubstantiated” but the IPCC found that the statements from the officer and the complainant differed. The IPCC then arranged for a meeting between the two, since no third party had been present when the search was conducted.

During the meeting, Kwok said, the officer insisted that she had only conducted a simple search and did not ask the complainant to remove her clothes. However, she was unable to describe how the search took place or explain why the area of the search had not been recorded. The complainant, meanwhile, was able describe the details of the search clearly.

Larry Kwok

Larry Kwok. File Photo: IPCC.

Following the meeting, the IPCC said it believed that the complainant was more reliable, as she did not have previous experience of being searched and it would be difficult for her to make up the actions and steps taken by officers.

“Ultimately, the Complaints Against Police Office agreed with the IPCC’s opinion and reclassified the case from ‘unsubstantiated’ to ‘not fully substantiated’ meaning that there is some reliable evidence to support the allegation,” he said.

Kwok said that the IPCC carefully considers the nature of cases before arranging a meeting with the individuals concerned. The watchdog also deals with each case in a fair and just manner and under practical circumstances with the powers granted, he added.

The IPCC previously said that – in the first half of 2017 – it received 213 complaints involving allegations of police officers obtaining admissions by means of assault, inducement and threats, as well as fabrication of evidence and inaccurate statements during criminal investigations.

Police watchdog upgrades complaint over woman's alleged strip search in room at MTR station