Sun, Oct 19, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan facing growing problem with hoodlums

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Increased concerns about public security have led to an increase in the number of people officially designated as hoodlums.

In fact, statistics released by the Ministry of the Interior on Friday stated that the number of hoodlums across the nation has increased by more than a third.

"The increased number was a result of heightened public security, and therefore, more hoodlums have been arrested in 2003 than in 2002," explained Chen Chin-hung (陳敬宏), the head of the ministry's Statistical Information Service.

Between January and September this year, the number of hoodlums reported by the police was 993, a 36.8 percent increase over the same period last year.

Of the 993 suspected hoodlums, 742 were re-examined and legally designated as hoodlums.

This year's number of legally designated hoodlums has increased by 24.3 percent over last year.

Chen explained that the heightened security is due to the increase of public complaints of the appearances of hoodlums in various neighborhoods around the country. As a result, police have increased the number of patrol officers and thus arrested more hoodlums than last year.

The mounting number of complaints does not come as a surprise, considering the numerous news reports within the last couple of months about hoodlums brazenly conducting gang fights in front of police stations.

According to the Anti-Hoodlum Law (檢肅流氓條例), any individual who is over the age 18 and has caused any of the social disturbances listed in Article 2 will be forced to report to the police and his or her actions will be reviewed.

Social disturbances described in Article 2 include crimes such as extortion, establishment of brothels and the illegal production of weapons.

After a number of police officers in the various level of the police agency have certified that the suspect has indeed committed one of these crime, the suspect will then be legally be identified as a hoodlum.

Taichung City has been identified as having the the highest rate of hoodlums per capita, followed closely by Miaoli County and Chiayi City

"The large number of gangs in these areas may contribute to the high hoodlum rates," Chen said.

According to the ministry, there are two types of hoodlums -- felons and regular hoodlums.

Once a regular hoodlum is arrested, the individual will simply be given a written warning and counseling. However, an arrested felon is not given a warning but detained right away.

This year, Taipei City has 103 felons, the highest number in the nation.

If a regular hoodlum breaks more Anti-Hoodlum Law regulations during his counseling period, that individual will be sent to a local court to be prosecuted.

Between January and September this year, a total of 500 hoodlums were prosecuted -- a 31.9 percent increase over last year.

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