chapter  4
Crime trends
Pages 24

This chapter examines crime trends in Hong Kong (HK) over the past 50 years and discusses factors that might have impacted on the prevalence and nature of crime. Hong Kong was formerly a British colony and became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Public of China on 1 July 1997 (Lo and Chui, 2012). Our discussion of crime trends covers both the period before and after the transfer of sovereignty, therefore provides an opportunity to examine crime trends during a period of political transition. In Western literature, frequently cited factors that affect crime trends include the age structure, economic inequalities, firearm prohibition, gangs and organised crime, illegal drug markets, public and media attitudes to crime, anti-crime measures and opportunities for crime (Siegel and Worrall, 2016). Due to space, our discussion of crime trends is limited to a few of these factors: the impacts of the age structure, reporting behaviour of victims, economic change, and crime and justice policies in HK. Levels of crime in HK are usually measured by official statistics and crime

victim surveys (CVS) but have occasionally involved self-report youth delinquency surveys (Wong, 1992; Vagg et al., 1995; Chui and Chan, 2012). Official crime statistics frequently underestimate crime due to under-reporting and recording practices. This ‘dark figure’ of unreported crime is addressed by surveys that estimate the ‘true’ victimisation rate, but are also subject to sampling and non-sampling errors. We can compare HK’s crime rates to other countries, like Singapore, with the help of United Nations (UN) international surveys that report both official criminal justice and self-reported victimisation statistics (Bouhours and Broadhurst, 2015). Despite being significantly important, some ten years have passed since the last CVS was conducted in 2006 (Broadhurst et al., 2010). To begin with, we look at some international comparisons of official crime statistics.