First published: 03rd March 2020
The Hong Kong Police's summary of crime statistics for 2019 shows a dramatic change from previous years, which noted an overall fall in crime, but a rise in cybercrime. 2019 has a rise of 9.2%, and no mention of cybercrime. The police statistics do not show a technology crime category. However, two categories that are frequently implemented online nowadays decreased: blackmail cases fell from 635 to 415 (-34.6%) and deception cases fell from 8372 to 8216 (-1.9%).
The statistics also do not show what has happened to Personal Data Privacy crimes. The Privacy Commissioner stated that 430 cases had been referred to the Police for investigation between 2019-06-14 and 2019-07-26 but they are not evident in the Police statistics. It is possible that some of those cases could be classified as Criminal Intimidation, but that figure dropped by 22% (from 1512 in 2018 to 1180 in 2019).
Statistics from the Government InfoSec website are currently only available to 2018, and they show a rise in both the number of cases and the financial loss per case from 2017 to 2018.
Hong Kong CERT statistics show a 6.2% decrease in reported security incidents from 2018 to 2019.
The rise in the crime statistics is directly relatable to the recent civic disturbances, and the Police link the rise in robbery, burglary, snatching and theft from vehicle to criminals taking advantage of the thinning out of crime prevention work and resources of Police, but this does not explain why those crimes increased when blackmail, deception, criminal intimidation and information security incidents fell. Possible explanations include an increase in public awareness of cybersecurity due to the publicity around fake news, prevention of surveillance, and promotion of encrypted messaging apps, or under-reporting of crimes due to high levels of distrust in the Police.