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Introduction to the Hong Kong Criminal Justice System

Introduction to the Hong Kong Criminal Justice System

Mark S. Gaylord
Harold Traver
Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Introduction to the Hong Kong Criminal Justice System
    Book Description:

    This book is a full-length study of the agencies charged with the control and management of crime in Hong Kong during the final years of British rule. Discussing agencies such as the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Judiciary and the Royal Hong Kong Police Force this book provides a solid introduction to the current criminal justice system and a sound basis for comparative analysis of possible legal and organizational innovations within the post-1997 Hong Kong criminal justice system.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-187-3
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Louise I. Shelley

    The Hong Kong criminal justice system is a fascinating but perhaps temporary structure. After 1997, when Hong Kong ceases to be a British colony and reverts to Chinese sovereignty, the existing institutions may be dramatically changed. Already the Chinese have indicated that they may not abide by their prior agreement to leave Hong Kong’s institutional framework and capitalist economy untouched for the next 50 years. Therefore, the picture of Hong Kong’s criminal justice system that Gaylord and Traver have assembled here is very important; it provides a useful framework for subsequent comparative analysis. The chapters are sufficiently detailed that future...

  5. 1 The Hong Kong Criminal Justice System
    (pp. 1-14)
    Mark S. Gaylord and Harold Traver

    From the beginning of colonial rule in Hong Kong, British authorities faced a problem of establishing law and order among an alien and often recalcitrant population. The situation was thought to be so serious that by August 1841, a magistrates’ court and jail were nearing completion while permanent business buildings and a home for the colonial governor were still in the planning stage. In the colony’s first year, legislation was enacted providing for the establishment and regulation of a police force and the creation of a supreme court. After the Legislative and Executive councils were established in 1843, legislation was...

  6. 2 The Measurement of Crime
    (pp. 15-28)
    Ian Dobinson

    Statistics are a useful source of information about crime, criminals, and the criminal justice system. Theories of criminal behaviour are grounded in them, as are popular and professional judgements about the nature and magnitude of crime. Statistics are also used to judge the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, and to justify official requests for increased public expenditure in the fight against crime. Yet because statistics are used so extensively we tend to be lulled into thinking, quite falsely, that they represent objective facts. Crime statistics, however, can never be entirely free of the biases inherent in their production.


  7. 3 The Royal Hong Kong Police
    (pp. 29-50)
    Harold Traver

    The Royal Hong Kong Police Force is the largest and most visible criminal justice agency in Hong Kong. Contrary to popular belief, however, the police devote only a small portion of their time and energy to activities immediately connected with fighting crime. In reality, the bulk of police work involves activities such as controlling traffic, providing directions, responding to emergencies, and resolving family and neighbourhood disputes. In short, a great deal of police work is devoted to the relatively unglamourous task of maintaining order. In Hong Kong, police work also includes a number of ancillary services, among them the promotion...

  8. 4 The Customs and Excise Department
    (pp. 51-62)
    Mark S. Gaylord

    The origins of the Customs and Excise Department can be traced to 17 September 1909, when the Preventive Service was established to enforce Hong Kong’s first liquor ordinance. The Preventive Service — five officers and 20 searchers — began operations that very evening by boarding and searching incoming river steamers. Soon thereafter, the Hong Kong and Kowloon Wharf and the Holt’s Wharf were bonded as King’s Warehouses and 19 companies were deemed licensed warehouses. Early regulations compelled all licensed warehouses to be fitted with a ‘Government Lock’ to ensure their closing between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

    The Preventive Service...

  9. 5 The Independent Commission Against Corruption
    (pp. 63-78)
    Lo Tit Wing

    Hong Kong’s first anti-bribery law, the Misdemeanours Punishment Ordinance (No. 3 of 1898), gave the police responsibility for investigating corruption among public servants. Five decades later the Prevention of Corruption Ordinance (No. 34 of 1948) was enacted and an Anti-Corruption Squad was established within the police force’s Criminal Investigation Department to address the rampant corruption in post-war Hong Kong. Four years later, in 1952, responsibility for the control of corruption was transferred from the Criminal Investigation Department to the Anti-Corruption Branch of the police force, headed by an assistant commissioner. All of these measures, however, were to little avail. Throughout...

  10. 6 Criminal Law
    (pp. 79-94)
    Michael Jackson

    Hong Kong’s criminal justice system, as any criminal justice system, is concerned with processing persons accused of committing crimes. The process begins when a crime is committed or alleged and someone is subsequently charged with its commission. Once begun, the process generally continues until the accused is either acquitted or convicted and punished.

    Underpinning this process is the criminal law, which consists of the crimes (or ‘offences’) that are defined in Hong Kong and also the general principles of liability that dictate what must be proved before an accused can be convicted of any particular crime.¹ The purpose of this...

  11. 7 The Prosecutions Division of the Legal Department
    (pp. 95-108)
    Andrew Raffell

    The Legal Department of the Hong Kong government is also known as the Attorney General’s Chambers. The office of Attorney General exists as well in Britain and other common law jurisdictions. In Hong Kong, the Attorney General is senior legal adviser to the governor and the government, an ex officio member of the Executive and Legislative councils, Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, and a member of the Judicial Service Commission. The Legal Department acts as the government’s lawyer and represents it both in civil and criminal cases. In addition, nearly all bills, or draft laws that have not yet...

  12. 8 Legal Assistance
    (pp. 109-118)
    Andrew Raffell

    Historically, defence counsel has been limited to the representation of defendants at trial. Yet even in this capacity the role of defence counsel was limited by the ability of defendants to pay for representation. Until quite recently, in most jurisdictions, an accused who could not afford to pay for legal representation had no right to defence counsel at trial or at later stages of the criminal justice process. Without some form of statutory provision, indigent defendants could be legally tried without any form of legal assistance. Given that most criminal defendants are relatively poor, the absence of legal representation was...

  13. 9 The Judiciary
    (pp. 119-136)
    Peter Wesley-Smith

    When a person is brought before the courts of Hong Kong charged with a criminal offence, liberal theory requires that several overlapping principles of justice govern the proceedings (Wesley-Smith, 1987).

    First is the presumption of innocence: the prosecutor must prove the case. It is not required that the accused prove his or her innocence. We are all entitled to behave in a manner that is not forbidden by law. It is the duty of the judge (and of the jury, in respect of an indictable offence tried in the High Court) to apply pre-existing law and reach a finding of...

  14. 10 The Court Interpreters’ Office
    (pp. 137-144)
    Sin King Kui and Joseph S.H. Djung

    From 1842 until 1974, English was the only official language in Hong Kong. It was the language both of the government and of the law. The law was enacted and published in English, and court proceedings were conducted entirely in English. Even with the passing, in 1974, of the Official Languages Ordinance (Cap 5), which gave Chinese the status of an official language, English remained the exclusive language of the law for another 13 years. Nevertheless, the Official Languages Ordinance did permit magistrates’ courts and some tribunals to use either English or Chinese. It was not until 1987, however, that...

  15. 11 The Correctional Services Department
    (pp. 145-160)
    Jon Vagg

    One of the first acts of the Hong Kong colonial administration when it began to operate in 1841 was the building of a prison. Although imprisonment was rarely used as a sentence in its own right, the first chief magistrate and head of the police force, Captain William Caine, determined that he needed a prison to hold offenders prior to trial. It was built on the site of what is now Victoria Jail in Central.

    Prison conditions in the early years, in Victoria Jail and other prisons, were grim. Corruption was usual, conditions were squalid and overcrowded, riots and escapes...

  16. 12 The Social Welfare Department
    (pp. 161-172)
    Charles O’Brian

    A casual observer could be forgiven for concluding that criminal justice and social welfare have little in common. The former, through formal determination of legal guilt, seeks justice; the latter, through the skilled intervention of social work, seeks rehabilitation. Hong Kong’s overwhelmingly Chinese population expects the courts to pass lengthy sentences that reflect the community’s strong disapproval of crime. Moreover, the Correctional Services Department (CSD), despite the provision of aftercare services for former prisoners and treatment programmes for drug addicts and young offenders, places its highest priority on prison security and the avoidance of disturbances that might come to the...

  17. 13 The Basic Law: Hong Kong’s Post-1997 Constitutional Framework
    (pp. 173-184)
    Benny Tai Yiu-ting

    Hong Kong’s criminal justice system is based on Britain’s and is therefore quite different from the criminal justice system found in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Nonetheless, the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law provide that Hong Kong’s existing legal system shall continue after China assumes sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997.¹ Yet while the policy of ‘one country, two systems’ guarantees the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) a high degree of autonomy, it seems unlikely that the legal system will remain unaffected. Hong Kong, after 1997, is destined for noteworthy political transformation, with probable serious ramifications....

  18. Appendix Hong Kong’s Principal Criminal Ordinances and Common Law Offences
    (pp. 185-192)
    Michael Jackson
  19. Index
    (pp. 193-200)