Watching Over Hong Kong
Private Policing 1841–1941
ISBN : 978-988-8028-99-3
244 pages, 6″ x 9″
Also available in Hardback HK$250.00
In this pioneering study, Sheilah Hamilton shows that, from the earliest days of British rule, the colonial administration introduced harsh legislation to control Chinese watchmen who were employed to protect the fledgling colony’s property in the absence of an effective public police force. She examines the growth in different Hong Kong Government departments of what would now be regarded as ‘hybrid’ police and argues that the existence of such posts within the civil service resulted in greater social control of the local Chinese community at minimal extra expense.
Amongst the topics of private security explored are: the impact of the few private security personnel engaged by local Chinese organizations such as the Nam Pak Hong, Tung Wah Hospital and Po Leung Kuk; the evolution of the District Watch Force from a force engaged in purely local security duties to an arm of the Hong Kong Government involved in non-security matters such as controversial sanitary inspections; and the unique system of village guards and scouts in the New Territories. A particular focus is the early maritime security problems and the internal security forces of Hong Kong’s shipping companies.
A final chapter compares the situation in Hong Kong and explores the similarities and differences with Shanghai during the period.
“Watching Over Hong Kong is a welcome addition to the historical literature, plugging an important gap and providing a comprehensive and impressive account of the emergence of private security in Hong Kong. Sheilah Hamilton has undertaken some striking historical research and presents her findings in a highly readable and engaging style. The book will be compelling reading for anyone studying or with an interest in security, policing or the history of Hong Kong.” —Dr. Mark Button, Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth
“Watching Over Hong Kong admirably fills a gap in the history of policing in Hong Kong. Dr. Hamilton presents her story in a readable, well documented, and often amusing style. Her book is a case study in the interplay of forces inherent in public-private policing and clearly demonstrates how the foundation stones of today’s structure of public private policing in Hong Kong were laid down. It will be of great interest to police officers, criminologists and the general historian.” —Offbeat, publication of the Hong Kong Police Force