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Guest Post: A Data Driven Look At Refugee Crime

Guest Post: A Data Driven Look At Refugee Crime

Like many societies, Hong Kong is having a heated discussion about immigration. Especially in regards to refugees. A common believe here is that refugees commit more crime than the general population and that most criminals are of South East Asian ethnicity. Further some have suggested the increase in refugees has let to a general increase in crime within Hong Kong. This has let to strong comments by some politicians (e.g. Dominic Lee in Sham Shui Po calling for internment camps). However, there is surprisingly little public data available to base these on.

Therefore, Open Data Hong Kong has attempted to acquire some data on the topic, especially Scott Edmunds who has spend a lot of time collecting the data by contacting individual police districts and police regions in Hong Kong through accessinfo requests. So here I will take a look at the data and see if I can find some answers.

The data

First I should mention something about refugees in Hong Kong in general. I was unable to find some accurate numbers on the total numbers of asylum seekers in Hong Kong. According to the immigration department there were around 9 618 people claiming asylum in HK in 2014, 10,922 in 2015, and 9,981 in 2016.

HK never joined the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, and asylum seekers can only apply under the UN Convention Against Torture. Or at least cite as a reason for protection. Furthermore, the recognition rate is very low. About 0.16% of applicants are accepted (the global average is 27%). The application process is quite slow as well. This results that many applicants stay in the city for years and many asylum seeker whose application have been rejected cannot be deported due to a lack of extradition agreement with the corresponding home countries. During their stay applicants, as well as those who are rejected, are not allowed to work, but the government provides some minimal rental, food and medical subsidy (HK allocated HK$450 Million in the budget of 2013/2014). Some have suggested that these subsidies are too low to maintain a living in HK and provide incentives to be involved with criminal activities. The majority of claimants are from South and South East Asia.

To asses crimes committed by refugees in HK I took a look at the data provided by Open Data Hong Kong, as well as publicly available census data and crime statistics. Unfortunately, not all police districts in HK were able to provide the criminal statistics of refugees. In fact only West Kowloon region was able to provide a complete picture across their district. Furthermore, these numbers are arrest statistics and not convictions (ODHK has collected data showing roughly 50% of arrests result in convictions). So any conclusions should be viewed with care.

Is there an increase in arrests?

This question is relatively easy to answer and I have plotted the overall number of arrests for each region by year below.

As you can see there seems to be no overall dramatic increase in arrests for all of the regions. However, there is a slight increase in crime Kowloon East and West, but in general the trend points downwards. This would suggest crime in HK is not increasing.

Arrests of refugees

Since I only have limited data available about refugees in HK I was only able to look at Kowloon West. Hence I compared the number of arrests of refugees with the total number of arrests within this region.

Let me explain this plot in bit more detail. I used data available for 2014 and 2015. Since Hong Kong does not use the phrase refugee as Hong Kong does not recognise the UN Refugee Convention, so the exact legal classifications are a bit vague. Nevertheless, some police stations have called refugees “Form 8” (F8) holders, so I will use this phrase here as well. Thus the plot above shows the number of arrests made in Kowloon West by F8 holders and all arrests between 2014 and 2015.

So comparable those arrests rate look quite small. Indeed in 2014 and 2015 the proportion of arrests of F8 holders was 4% and 5% respectively. So these numbers seem rather stable and would suggest no major change between 2014 and 2015, despite a slight increase in the number of refugees.

Do refugees commit more crime than others?

This question turned out to be much more difficult to answer than I thought. One problem is that I do not know how many refugees live in Kowloon West, further police districts are not the same as council districts. This makes it difficult to get an population estimate since the census data from 2011 only looked at council districts. Thus I am unable to answer this question with the current data. Only the availability of the exact arrest numbers of refugees for the whole of Hong Kong or the exact numbers of refugees living in Kowloon would help to answer this question.

Conclusion

There is no evidence of an increase in crime in Hong Kong (at least from the data available), also there seems to be a slight increase from 2014 to 2015 (looks more like random noise to me however). Arrests of F8 holders was relatively stable between 2014 and 2015. Intuitively I think the proportions of arrests of F8 holders are higher than one would expect given a small population of around 10,000, but one needs to keep in mind that arrests are not convictions. In general the data is not really sufficient to make a conclusive statement. Except that HK is incredibly safe compared to other major cities (0.4 murders per 100,000 people in 2016; one of the lowest in the world).

Thanks for Open Source HK for putting together the ODD event this year. See the interesting round table discussion with three LegCo members on our periscope stream. For more on this particular project, interact with this data via some Shiny visualisations and the raw data being collected at ODHK’s CKAN installation.

Open Data Day 2017, the Hong Kong edition

Open Data Day 2017, the Hong Kong edition

Thankfully no longer clashing with Chinese New Year after some previous lobbying, the 2017 edition of International Open Data Day is Saturday 4th of March. You can see a post on last years edition here. Just to share what Hong Kong is up to for this year, Open Source Hong Kong have done a great job setting up a hackathon at City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon Tong from 10am-6pm. This includes a likely fascinating roundtable at with three data-savvy legislators from LegCo – Charles Mok, Edward Yiu, Chung-Tai Cheng, and Dr Ray Cheung (CityU App Lab), moderated by Dr Haggen So (HKCOTA).

Eventbrite: https://opendatadayhk2017.eventbrite.hk/
Hackpad: https://opensourcehk.hackpad.com/Open-Data-Day-HK-2017-QvQ2MhnhJE6
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/154862401625387/permalink/244902289288064/
Open Data Day Official website: http://opendataday.org/
OKI forum page: https://discuss.okfn.org/t/international-open-data-day-2017-the-hong-kong-edition/4733

Registration is free but is limited to 60 participants, so sign up while there are still places.

Tentative Schedule
10:00 Reception and Networking
10:15 Introduction and Team Forming
11:00 Start of team works / discussions
16:00 Open Data Roundtable with Guests
17:00 Team Presentation
18:00 Closing

Guests at Roundtable (4-5pm) – Discussion of Open Data (Venue: Classroom P4704):
– Hon. Charles Mok 莫乃光 立法會議員 (資訊科技界)
– Hon. 姚松炎 Edward Yiu 立法會議員 (建築、測量、都市規劃及園境界)
– Hon. Chung-Tai Cheng 鄭松泰 立法會議員 (新界西選區)
– Dr. Ray Cheung, Cityu Apps Lab.
(Modarator: Dr. Haggen So, Hong Kong Creative Open Technology Association)

Please register at Eventbrite and visit Hackpad to add your open data day hack ideas. https://opendatadayhk2017.eventbrite.hk/

Venue Sponsor: CityU App Lab
Map/how to get to CityU: https://goo.gl/maps/EBfdwL2eEft

Open Data Day 2017 HK Organising Committee is formed from the following communities and supporters.
Initium Media
Open Data Hong Kong
Open Source Hong Kong

Meet.37: Research Data; Policy, Practice & Platforms

Meet.37: Research Data; Policy, Practice & Platforms

Wednesday, November 23rd at 7pm at Campfire CoWorking Space in Kennedy Town
4/F Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 12P Smithfield, Kennedy Town

Research data: the government data people forget about.
Meet.37 is on research data policy and practice in Hong Kong. Not just relevant to ivory tower academics, like government data it is taxpayer funded and benefits society. In most of the developed world academic research data is increasingly being mandated to be shared via academic research networks and repositories. Hong Kong has been far behind in the matter, but despite this lack of leadership from government (sound familiar?) the individual universities are taking matters into their own hands and are now building platforms for sharing academic papers and data. Much of this is summarized in a paper some of ODHK have recently put together (see the pre-print version in SocArXiv here: https://osf.io/3egzh/).

Our special guest this month is David Palmer (see picture of him recently presenting this work in Beijing) who has had a long history in Hong Kong as a Research Data & Records Development Librarian. He has worked at The University of Hong Kong Libraries (HKUL) since 1990, as Systems Librarian, Technical Services Support Team Leader, and Scholarly Communications Team Leader. He is a founding member of the Hong Kong Open Access Committee, and was instrumental in having HKU become signatory to the Berlin Declaration on Open Access in November 2009. He has led in many path-breaking projects, such as the first university in Asia to have all of its thesis collection (25,000) online in fulltext, the first institution worldwide to do an institutional upload of publication data for each researcher into the ResearcherID database, and the creation of author profiles in The Hub for each of HKU’s authors.

Setting the scene, Scott and Waltraut from ODHK will present some of the findings of their “open science” policy paper, before David presents a rare concrete victory for open in Hong Kong – the first CRIS (Current Research Information System) data portal here built upon the HKU Scholars Hub institutional repository. We will then end with a Q&A on what needs to happen next, and how can these lessons be applied to the wider open data ecosystem in Hong Kong.

Program for Meet.37:
Scott Edmunds (ODHK/GigaScience): Open science policies and practices in HK, introducing the ODHK case study studying these practice https://osf.io/3egzh/

Waltraut Ritter (ODHK/Knowledge Dialogues): Innovation potential of open research data.

David Palmer (HKU): From IR to CRIS. Open e-Research from the HKU Scholars Hub.

Q&A: What needs to happen next for Hong Kong research data, and what lessons can be learned for the wider open data ecosystem?

Please come with questions and participate in the Q&A at the end.

Date:
23rd November 2016, 7.00pm
Add this event to your Google Calendar.

Directions:
NOTE: Do not follow Google Maps! Only 5 minutes from Kennedy Town MTR exit A, go UPHILL
Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/3sYaHVScPNG2
Thank you to Campfire Collaborative Space for hosting us.

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Meet.36: Legco visit

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Tuesday, November, 22 at 1:45pm.
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Wanted a chance to visit Legco but never had the chance or didn’t know when’s the best time to go? Here’s your chance!

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (Legco) is Hong Kong’s center seat for political debate and law-making. To stay informed about what is happening, we refer to the information Legco can provide to us. Increasingly, we rely on the data, to know what happened, what’s going on, and what’s coming up, because we want to review the votes of lawmakers, keep up with the current debate, and analyse upcoming legislation.

Tentative agenda
  • 2pm: Meet with OGCIO data.gov.hk team
  • 3:30pm: Tour of Legco
  • 4:30 Meet with Legco IT
  • 6:00 Meet with Charles Mok, Legco councillor for the IT functional constituency

Some engaged citizens have built tools to better analyse legco proceedings, to better keep track of law-makers’ votes, chart the debate, and follow the legislative agenda. Cutting through the information and data isn’t easy, and providing this data is no easy task. Join this event to know better how Legco works, to connect with Legco’s technical staff, to understand their challenges, share your interests, and share some expertise. Confirm your seat early!

You will need to bring your HKID for sign-in, and I will need the name on your HKID in advance. Please email this to me at bastien@opendatahk.com.

(This event may expand to include meetings with other government departments)

Meet.35: Data Data Data

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Wednesday, November 2 at 7pm at Campfire CoWorking Space in Kennedy Town
4/F Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 12P Smithfield, Kennedy Town

We’re going to work with data, and start building a repository for common public data. Data about land, public transportation, public safety, political districts, weather, pollution, shark fins, the ivory trade, anything. Even “better data” – the data we want to see on data.gov.hk and don’t see it. We’ll bring it all together, and make it shareable. We’ll discuss what we want to access, how we can get it, and liberate it for all to access and use.

You do NOT need to be technical to join this! Bring your minds and curiosity. Ask your questions, and start on a journey of getting the information you want.

We anticipate getting our hands dirty with data, so please bring your laptop if you can.

Add this event to your Google Calendar

Directions:
NOTE: Do not follow Google Maps! Only 5 minutes from Kennedy Town MTR exit A, go UPHILL
Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/3sYaHVScPNG2

Thank you to Campfire Collaborative Space for hosting us.

Meet.34: Open Data Tools

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Let’s showcase some tools we are working on to support open data in Hong Kong:

  • A data warehouse for open data for the public;
  • A projects database listing of open data projects;
  • A(nother) Legco watch site, and more.

If you also have a project, come show it to us.
If you want to learn more and be part of the action, come out and get involved.

Confirm attendance on Facebook.

Directions:
NOTE: Do not follow Google Maps! Only 3 minutes from Kennedy Town MTR’s only exit A, go UPHILL.
Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/3sYaHVScPNG2

Thank you to Campfire Collaborative Space for hosting us.

Date: Tomorrow, Wednesday October 12, 2016, 7pm

Location: Campfire Collaborative Space, 4/F, Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 12P Smithfield.
Directions: Only 3 minutes from Kennedy Town MTR’s only exit A, go UPHILL.
Google Map link