Police and Immigration Department officers conduct a joint operation targeting illegal workers. Photo: HK Government

Hong Kong police have set up a working group to combat the increasing number of crimes committed by asylum seekers. The increase in the crime rate by asylum seekers came to light after a request for the figures was put to the Legislative Council.

Lawmaker Priscilla Leung asked John Lee, the Secretary for Security, about the crime rate and Lee responded in a written reply. The figures show that a total of 1,542 non-ethnic Chinese, mostly asylum seekers, were involved in criminal offenses and were arrested in Hong Kong in 2017, an increase of 38% on 2015.

A total of 598 were arrested for crimes related to shoplifting and miscellaneous theft, an increase of 54% from 2015, while 173 were arrested in serious assault cases, and increase of 73%.

Since 2015 there was an increase of 25% in the number of non-ethnic Chinese arrested for serious drug offenses with 200 people detained. In 2017, the Immigration Department arrested 381 non-ethnic Chinese, most asylum seekers, for working illegally, an increase of 64% since 2015.

Lee said police were concerned with the situation and had set up the “Crime Wing Working Group on non-ethnic Chinese involvement in Organized Crime and Triad Activities” to formulate strategies and coordinate operations.

The Immigration Department said it would step up inspections and intelligence gathering at factories, restaurants, food processing industries, premises under renovation, recycling centers, container depots and warehouses in different districts and conduct raids with other law enforcement agencies.

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