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.
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