Police remain vigilant to developments, work to support Macao’s stability

The Secretary for Security, Mr Wong Sio Chak, chairs a press conference regarding the crime figures and the police's enforcement statistics recorded in the first half of 2019.

The number of suspected crime cases reported in Macao in the first half of 2019 fell by 2.8 percent year-on-year, to 6,920 cases. Instances of the most serious forms of crime continued to be either non-existent, or extremely low in number.

The half-year statistics from the police regarding reported crime showed the stability of Macao’s overall social environment, said the Secretary for Security, Mr Wong Sio Chak, on Tuesday (3 September) during a press conference on the crime figures and the police’s work regarding law enforcement.

Nonetheless, the security authorities would remain highly vigilant regarding developments within Macao – and apply advanced levels of analysis and make effective deployment of their resources if necessary – in order to maintain Macao’s safe environment and stability.

In the first six months of 2019, there was a total of 323 suspected violent crimes, a year-on-year increase of 8.4 percent. The rise was due to more cases recorded under the category of false imprisonment and rape, noted the Secretary.

He went on to say that the police paid great attention to the possible negative impact in the community wrought by illicit currency exchange and vice groups. Some such illicit activities had also been linked to other forms of crime.

In Tuesday’s press conference, Mr Wong also detailed the security authorities’ involvement in “Thunderbolt 19”, a joint operation carried out by the police services of Guangdong Province, of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and of the Macao SAR, in a bid to minimise the influence of cross-boundary criminal syndicates.

“Thunderbolt 19” had so far seen 210 operations with 2,430 acts of participation by members of Macao’s police services. In those operations, a total of 6,328 persons had been investigated.

Regarding the authorities’ anti-smuggling effort, a total of 475 suspected smugglers had been apprehended in the first half of 2019, a 10.7-percent year-on-year increase. The number of people overstaying their permission to be in Macao went down by 3.3 percent year-on-year.

In the first half of 2019, computer crimes totalled 146 incidents, representing a 43.1 percent year-on-year increase. Crimes involving online use of credit cards saw the most significant rise. Mr Wong said the security authorities were advancing their contribution regarding work to amend the Law on Combating Computer Crime. This was to strengthen enforcement against “pseudo base stations” and to protect further personal information and assets owned by members of the Macao public.

According to the Secretary, there were 1,255 cases in the first half of 2019 involving the use of information retrieved from the electronic surveillance system set up across the city.

A fourth phase involving 800 surveillance cameras of implementation of such electronic surveillance system was likely to be concluded in the first quarter of 2020. Surveillance cameras had functions for facial recognition and automated recognition of vehicle number plates.

To enhance the effectiveness of the surveillance system, Macao would have for now 50 surveillance cameras with a facial recognition function and a further 50 cameras with the capability to recognise number-plates. That aggregate of 100 cameras had been committed to the project in the course of the previous three phases of installation.

The Secretary also mentioned the authorities’ effort in enhancing front-line police officers’ ability to respond to – and their capabilities when dealing with – emergency situations. A number of drills – covered topics such as casino emergencies; a drill on how to disrupt any attempt at disorder in public spaces; and other comprehensive exercises involving cross-departmental participation – was held earlier this year and attained the Government’s goals.

Regarding gaming-related crimes, there were 840 cases handled in the first six months of 2019, representing an increase of 15.2 percent from the corresponding period last year. Cases of false imprisonment recorded a rise of 37.3 percent year-on-year, while gaming-related usury went up 25.5 percent.

Mr Wong said the increase in the reported incidence of gaming-related crimes was linked to large-scale daily inspection operations carried out since June.

The security authorities had not found evidence that the city’s gaming industry had had any negative influence on community security, said Mr Wong. The police were nonetheless paying close attention to developments in the sector and adjusting their enforcement strategies as necessary.

The Secretary noted a number of celebrations and events was expected to be held in the second half of this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Macao SAR.

The police would step up their enforcement, employ proactive policing and take part in intelligence-led initiatives, in order to combat crimes in Macao and to ensure safety in the community, added Mr Wong.

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