Written Question on Mainland visitors convicted of criminal offences in Hong Kong

Question:

Information from the Hong Kong Police Force reveals that in 2012, 1 341 mainland visitors were arrested for having allegedly committed offences in Hong Kong, representing an increase of 11.2% from 2011. According to the reciprocal notification mechanism between the Mainland and Hong Kong, Hong Kong Police regularly forward to the mainland public security authorities for them to follow up the particulars of those mainland visitors who have been subject to criminal prosecutions or imposed criminal compulsory measures for having allegedly committed offences in Hong Kong, and such persons will not be issued travel documents to come to Hong Kong within two to five years (period of non-issuance of permits). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the specific operation of the aforesaid notification mechanism;

(2) of the number of mainland visitors reported to the mainland public security authorities by the authorities in each of the past ten years, together with a breakdown by the type of offence allegedly committed by such visitors and the period of non-issuance of permits;

(3) whether it knows the criteria adopted by the mainland authorities for deciding whether mainlanders whose period of non-issuance of permits has expired will be issued travel documents to come to Hong Kong; among those who were re-issued travel documents to come to Hong Kong in the past three years, whether any of them has committed offence(s) again in Hong Kong; if so, of the detailed figures; and

(4) whether it conducted, in the past three years, any detailed study on mainland visitors committing crimes in Hong Kong, and whether it will review in collaboration with the mainland authorities the operation of the existing notification mechanism (including conducting studies on the extension of the period of non-issuance of permits or not issuing travel documents to such persons for coming to Hong Kong forever, etc.); if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok:

President,

According to the statistics of the Hong Kong Police Force, from 2011 to 2013, the number of Mainland visitors arrested by the Police for having committed criminal offences in Hong Kong were 1 207, 1 341 and 1 342 respectively. Over the same period, the number of Mainland visitors visiting Hong Kong were 27.88 million, 34.66 million and 40.47 million respectively. The number of visitors committing criminal offences out of every 100 000 Mainland visitor arrivals was 4.3 in 2011, down to 3.9 in 2012 and 3.3 in 2013, lower than that of other visitors or all visitors (Note).

The reply to the four parts of the question is as follows:

(1) Under the established notification mechanism between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government and the Mainland authorities, the Immigration Department (ImmD) regularly passes information on Mainland residents who have committed criminal offence with conviction in Hong Kong to the Bureau of Exit and Entry Administration of the Ministry of Public Security of the Mainland, to enable the relevant authorities to strengthen assessment of their future applications for entry to Hong Kong. The offences involved include illegal employment, breach of conditions of stay, possession or use of forged documents, submission of false statements, engaging in prostitution or other criminal offences punishable by at least two years’ imprisonment. Generally, the Mainland authorities will not issue exit endorsements and travel documents to such persons for a period of two to five years, depending on the circumstances, to prevent them from revisiting Hong Kong for illegal activities.

(2) Under the notification mechanism, the number of Mainland residents who have committed criminal offence with conviction in Hong Kong as reported to the Bureau of Exit and Entry Administration of the Ministry of Public Security of the Mainland by the ImmD are tabulated as follows:

Year Number of Mainland residents
2006 10 959
2007 7 318
2008 6 681
2009 6 109
2010 5 060
2011 4 072
2012 3 324
2013 3 497

The ImmD does not maintain statistics on the types of offence committed and the period of non-issuance of permits.

(3) Pursuant to Article 22 of the Basic Law, for entry into the HKSAR, people from other parts of China must apply for approval. The provisions of this Article, in accordance with the Interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in 1999, mean that Mainland residents who wish to enter Hong Kong for whatever reason, must apply to the relevant authorities of their residential districts for approval in accordance with the relevant national laws and administrative regulations, and must hold valid documents issued by the relevant authorities. The Mainland authorities handle matters relating to the application, approval and issue of Exit Entry Permits and relevant exit endorsements in accordance with the laws, policies and administrative regulations of the Mainland.

The number of Mainland visitors arrested by the Police with previous convictions in Hong Kong in or after 2005, who were arrested by the Police and convicted again within the period of 2011 to 2013, whether they had left Hong Kong between the convictions, broken down by the types of offence of their last conviction, is as follows:

Type of offence of last conviction   2011 2012 2013

Theft               55  52  37
Serious immigration offences     7   5   4
Breach of conditions of stay      0   0   1
Other offences           61  50  37
Total               123  107  79

(4) The HKSAR Government will exchange views with the Mainland authorities from time to time over the notification mechanism, and will review the mechanism at appropriate times and maintain liaison with the Mainland authorities to ensure its effectiveness.

Note: The number of visitors who committed criminal offences out of every 100 000 arrivals for other visitors were 9.6 in 2011, 9.5 in 2012 and 10.6 in 2013 while that for all visitors were 6.1 in 2011, 5.5 in 2012 and 5.2 in 2013.

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