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Stop & Search - what's the law?

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  1. #1

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    Question Stop & Search - what's the law?

    TLDR: what are our rights and obligations as citizens?

    So....first time for everything....

    I was approached by 6 police officers at noon today in Sai Ying Pun. They thought I was "suspicious" and wanted to frisk me and check my bag. When I asked why, they said it was on suspicion of "burglary" and that they wanted to search me for "burglary tools".
    They found nothing and I made my merry way to share with you but ask questions too.
    If anyone recorded video of this exchange and it shows up on digital media somewhere.....let me know....

    Anyway, I asked the officers repeatedly (but respectfully, I think) under what law/ordinance they wanted to search me and what my rights are.
    I was directed to CAP232 (just the ordinance but no sub section thereof) and came across this:
    54: Power to stop, detain and search
    (1)If a police officer finds any person in any street or other public place, or on board any vessel, or in any conveyance, at any hour of the day or night, who acts in a suspicious manner, it shall be lawful for the police officer—

    (a)to stop the person for the purpose of demanding that he produce proof of his identity for inspection by the police officer
    (b)to detain the person for a reasonable period while the police officer enquires whether or not the person is suspected of having committed any offence at any time; and
    (c) if the police officer considers it necessary to do so—
    (i)to search the person for anything that may present a danger to the police officer; and
    (ii)to detain the person during such period as is reasonably required for the purpose of such a search.

    (2)If a police officer finds any person in any street or other public place, or on board any vessel, or in any conveyance, at any hour of the day or night, whom he reasonably suspects of having committed or of being about to commit or of intending to commit any offence, it shall be lawful for the police officer—

    (a)to stop the person for the purpose of demanding that he produce proof of his identity for inspection by the police officer;
    (b)to detain the person for a reasonable period while the police officer enquires whether or not the person is suspected of having committed any offence at any time;
    (c)to search the person for anything that is likely to be of value (whether by itself or together with anything else) to the investigation of any offence that the person has committed, or is reasonably suspected of having committed or of being about to commit or of intending to commit; and
    (d)to detain the person during such period as is reasonably required for the purpose of such a search.


    • What are your rights?
    • Can one refuse to participate? What then?
    • Can one ask to be escorted to a private area or the police station?
    • What's appropriate? What's not?



    Last edited by rkenia852; 10-01-2020 at 01:46 PM.

  2. #2

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    Worth reviewing CLIC's section on police powers, but the bottom line is it is simply easier to submit to the search rather than go through the hassle of being detained and taken to some unknown location.

    https://www.clic.org.hk/en/topics/po...police_powers/

    Last edited by shri; 10-01-2020 at 02:13 PM.

  3. #3

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    Just curious- what is your age and were you wearing black? Seriously, it does seem from watching videos that they target the young who they consider to be dressed like protesters...

    Just wondering if that is why they stopped you...

    rkenia852 likes this.

  4. #4

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    From the CLIC advice - interesting...
    ”The arrested person is under no legal obligation to unlock his password-protected mobile phone despite the request of the police officer.”

    rkenia852 likes this.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by MABinPengChau:
    Just curious- what is your age and were you wearing black? Seriously, it does seem from watching videos that they target the young who they consider to be dressed like protesters...

    Just wondering if that is why they stopped you...
    I'm assuming Op is the wrong shade of brown. The cops seem to be targetting minorities the most

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by shri:
    Worth reviewing CLIC's section on police powers, but the bottom line is it is simply easier to submit to the search rather than go through the hassle of being detained and taken to some unknown location.

    https://www.clic.org.hk/en/topics/po...police_powers/
    Thanks very much Shri.

    I quote the rights that I thought matter the most (bold is mine):

    (...) the common law as well as Article 11(2g) of section 8 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance (Cap. 383) provide that a person has the right not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt, i.e. every person in Hong Kong has the right to silence. By virtue of that right, a person may in general refuse to answer any question posed by a police officer.
    No matter whether the police officers exercise their power to search a person under section 54(1) or (2) of the Police Force Ordinance (Cap. 232), there is no power to seize anything found on the person being searched.
    The arrested person is under no legal obligation to unlock his password-protected mobile phone despite the request of the police officer.
    (...) even if the police can lawfully ask you questions, you have a right to silence and so may refuse to answer any questions posed by the police (except that you may need to provide your name and address to the police).
    If you are simply asked by police officers for consent to allow them entry into your premises, you may choose to refuse.
    A person should be informed of the offence or the crime for which he is suspected to have committed when he is arrested.
    The arrested person must be told in simple, non-technical language that he could understand, the essential legal and factual grounds for his arrest.
    (...) you have a right to be informed by the police officer of the reason for arresting you.
    If the police officer fails to tell you the reason at the time of the arrest, the arrest is generally unlawful.
    If the police want to detain you for a longer period, they must first bring you before a Magistrate and make the relevant application. You may object to such an application and ask for bail (see Q&A 14).
    The detained person's rights include:
    - Requesting that the detained person's relatives or a friend be informed of the detention;
    - Communicating and consulting with a legal adviser (unless any unreasonable delay or hindrance will likely be caused to the processes of investigation or the administration of justice);
    - Asking to be released on bail;
    - Being provided with drinking water upon request, adequate food and refreshment as well as medical care if necessary.
    You may ask the police for a list of solicitors whom you can consult. The police have a duty to provide the list to you upon request, and allow you to telephone the solicitor unless this will seriously prejudice their investigation. However, free legal services are not available to you at this stage.
    If bail is not granted by the police, then the police will have a duty to bring the accused to the Magistrates' Court as soon as practicable (normally in the following morning).
    However, none of this says if the police have to identify themselves, and how and when they should do so (eg when arresting, prior to arresting, show an ID, etc).

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharSiuNow:
    However, none of this says if the police have to identify themselves, and how and when they should do so (eg when arresting, prior to arresting, show an ID, etc).
    Uniformed officers don't have to show their warrant cards, plain clothes officers have to show their warrant cards when exercising police powers

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by MABinPengChau:
    Just curious- what is your age and were you wearing black? Seriously, it does seem from watching videos that they target the young who they consider to be dressed like protesters...

    Just wondering if that is why they stopped you...
    I don't know about anyone else but my uniform is black.
    rkenia852 and hannah01 like this.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by MABinPengChau:
    Just curious- what is your age and were you wearing black? Seriously, it does seem from watching videos that they target the young who they consider to be dressed like protesters...

    Just wondering if that is why they stopped you...
    Valid question in these days and times. Late 30s, clean shaven, bright red jacket and a gym bag.
    @mrgoodkat is right. It seems to be more directed toward minorities; but I wonder if there's criminal activity/support from minorities toward protesters that warrants this targeting.

  10. #10

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    Ah, for racial stuff, I think they don't care about involvement with protests, as in Japan, you're just targeted, period. In Japan, every serious crime they would blame it on the Chinese...sigh.

    Makes the US seem positively tolerant by comparison...


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