Violent crime in HK surges in first half due to protests
Hong Kong Police said they're struggling to bring crime levels down in Hong Kong, because protest-related violence hasn't subsided and the use of face masks in the community is allowing criminals to hide their identities.
In an update on the crime situation in the first half of the year, the police said the total number of offences is up 28 percent, or just over 7,000, on the same period last year, at 32,345.
Violent crime is up 13 percent, the force says, and it blames protesters for thousands of arson, criminal damage, public order and weapons cases.
It says by the end of last month, 9,216 people had been arrested in connection with the protest movement that began a year ago, around 40 percent of them students. Almost 2,000 of them are facing prosecution, with roughly a third on rioting allegations.
And it's not over yet, the force warns, saying the negative impact of the violent incidents has not yet fully subsided, and disobedience to the law among some members of public is growing.
On the day that wearing face masks outdoors becomes compulsory, the force said the widespread use of masks is enabling criminals to conceal their identities more easily.
The result of all this, the police say, is that it's difficult in the short term for them to restore the law-and-order situation to the levels seen before the protests began.
But they note that the authorities now have the national security law to help them prevent and suppress criminal acts, and punish any offenders.