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Policing in Hong Kong: Research and Practice
  • Kam C. Wong, Xavier University

In terms of purpose, I write this book to advance research into HKP and improve policing in Hong Kong. The ultimate objective is to lay a foundation for future study and research of HKP.

In terms of audience, I write this book for comparative policing scholars and international police practitioners who are interested in knowing and advancing the “research and practice” of HKP. The objective here is to provide the scholars and practitioners with foundational skills and fundamental knowledge to facilitate their research and understanding of policing in Hong Kong, including:

How did HKP “Study and Research” originate and develop in Hong Kong (Chapter One)?

What does extant HKP literature informs us on the methods and findings, problems and prospects in the field (Chapter Two: Literature Review; Chapter Seven: Future of Policing in Hong Kong)?

How has a-theoretical policing adversely affects research and practice of HKP (Chapter Three: A-Theoretical Policing)?

How does Western – US conception of community policing (Problem Oriented Policing) similar to and differs Eastern - HK understanding of community policing (Chapter Four: Expectation Policing)?

How might inside – out and bottom - up research method help in understanding HKP differently and more comprehensively (Chapter Five: Research Method)?

What can HKP officers tell us in e-police canteen about “HKP Culture and Practice”(Chapter Six: HKP Culture and Practice)?

What lies ahead for HKP research and practice, given change of sovereignty and radicalization of policing? (Chapter Seven: Future of Policing in Hong Kong?)

Serendipity discovery

It is often the case that in research and writing, we find out more, and more interesting things than we anticipate. This is by far the most interesting and precious part of any research project. In this, this book does not disappoint. What then are some of the more important and titillating serendipity discovery in this book?

First, conventional understanding notwithstanding (Chapter One), systematic research into policing in Hong Kong really started in 1960s not 1980s with HKG administrative officers investigating into how Chinese communities in New Territories and outer islands were controlled, in a communal setting and self-help way (Chapter Two). This line of research provides evidence in support of “Personal Expectation Policing” theory, which postulates that: “The person who is closest to a problem, by impact or with resource, is the person to take care of the problem” (Chapter Four).

Second, in researching into HKP we learn as much from outsiders, e.g., auxiliary police officers and police family members (Chapter Two) as from insiders, e.g., HKP Self Directed Research Agent (SDRA). Not to be outdone, we also learn that long before police scholars and practitioners got interested and engaged in the study and research into policing in Hong Kong, scholars, researchers and practitioners from other discipline and profession have been diligent in building up the HKP study and research field.

Third, the review of literature (Chapter Two) informs us that in order to understand Hong Kong (HKP): (1) Future researchers must understand Hong Kong people, in their own terms, having due regard to time, place, culture, and happenstance.

In essence in research into policing in Hong Kong context of history, culture, condition, circumstance matters. The observation here is: in policing, who is being police matters. (Chapter Seven)

(2) Future researchers, and as a research focus, must investigate into “policing of Hong Kong with Hong Kong characteristics” and not (only) “Colonial HKP policing” (Pre WWII) “RHKP policing” (pre-1997) or “SAR HKP policing” (post 1997). The observation here is: in policing, who is doing the policing matters.

(3) Future researchers who want to learn about the culture and practice of HKP must listen not only to the HKP leaders who make history at the top, but also attend to the JPO who are voiceless at the bottom. The observation here is: in policing HKP leaders at the top as well as frontline officers at the bottom makes for the practice of policing in Hong Kong, in supplementary, adversarial, collaborative and interactive ways. The observation is: No voice is too small to be heard in the grand scale of HKP history (Chapter Five) and as integral part of policing of Hong Kong reality (Chapter Six).

(4) Finally theory and method of research into HKP must move in three directions: (a) Researcher: Comparative police researchers must be bi-cultural in preparation (language), immersion (culture) and identification (sensitivity) with subject matter of investigation (Chapter Seven – Conclusion). (b) Theory: Theory explaining or predicting police organization or policing practice must be indigenously derived (PEP) and not cross-culturally imposed (POP) (Chapter Four). (c) Method: Researching into policing in culture or practice must conduct insider-out and bottom-up research. Inside – out and bottom – up voices are considered as important, if not more important, as voices from inside – out and top – down voices (Chapter Five, Six).

Finally, HKP “research and practice” is dominated by Western theory (or lack there of) (Chapter Two), research findings (Chapter Three) and best practices (Chapter Seven) which speaks the language of law, bureaucracy and coercion; more generally “best practice” with “scientific evidence” in support (Chapter Three) and “political ideology” in command (Chapter Seven). This is cultural imperialism in its most advanced albeit obscured form. View in this light, HKP is moving from one form of direct imperialism to that of an indirect kind, i.e., political imperialism (Colonial mandate from U.K.) to that of cultural imperialism (professional imperatives from England) (Chapter Seven).

Looking ahead, HKP research and practice must forge ahead with its own theory, building on history, tradition and culture (Chapter Four) and conduct based on frontline experience and attitude (Chapter Five, Six) before HKP research and practice can truly come of age, blunting claims of illegitimacy from the public (Chapter Seven), irrelevancy by researchers (Chapter Three), and dampening morale of officers (Chapter Five).

  • Hong Kong Police,
  • Policing in Hong Kong,
  • Law Enforcement in Hong Kong
Publication Date
October 15, 2015
Kam C. Wong
Citation Information
Kam C. Wong. Policing in Hong Kong: Research and Practice. U.K.(2015)
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