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Thursday, August 25, 2016, 00:30

HK police pledge to maintain order during polling day

By Luis Liu

HONG KONG - The city's police force will boost their numbers to maintain order during the city's most important polling day this year, according to Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung.

Lo was attending a Tuen Mun District Council meeting on crime prevention on Wednesday. He addressed district councilors’ concerns that radical protesters may go to polling stations and disrupt the process during the upcoming Legislative Council election on Sept 4.

Lo said the police had made careful preparations including intelligence collection to gather information and assess risks. Officers will pay attention to people of different political affiliations who gather in support groups for rival candidates. They will also look out for signs of potential clashes between the groups.

He said the police will deploy "suitable manpower" and will patrol around all 595 polling stations in the city. "The LegCo election is of great importance to the city's social stability, and we'll work to prevent any incident from happening," Lo said.

According to earlier media reports, each station would see two to four patrolling officers. And another 2,000 police officers may stand by for any emergencies that may happen. This means a total of 4,000 to 5,000 police personnel will be mobilized on the day.

Previously, returning officers disqualified six LegCo election nominees who advocated “independence” for Hong Kong. Some of the returning officers received threats online and by mail.

Supporters of the “independence” advocates have vowed to disrupt the election by various means including slowing down the voting process.

In May 2015, the Police Tactical Unit conducted a drill at its Fan Ling base to prepare for possible clashes during occasions such as the LegCo vote on the constitutional reform bill in June 2015, and in September 2015, one year after the illegal “Occupy Central” movement took place.

Meanwhile, the police released its mid-year report on crime. Hong Kong's public security saw a major improvement in the first half as the number of overall crimes fell 13.2 percent compared with same period last year.

The total number of crimes committed in Hong Kong dropped to 29,500 in the first half this year from 34,034 recorded during the same period in 2015, according to police statistics. The decline may set a new record as the 2015's full-year figure – 66,439 crime cases – was the lowest since 1979.

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