A proposal to establish a Centre for Criminology as a sub-division of
studies and learning based in the Faculty of Social Sciences in accordance
with the provisions of the University of Hong Kong Ordinance Cap 1053
, Section 8 (3).
Faculty of Social Sciences, December 1998
The Department of Sociology respectfully submits a proposal to establish a Centre for Criminology as a sub-division of studies and learning based in the Faculty of Social Sciences in accordance with the provisions of the University of Hong Kong Ordinance Cap 1053 , Section 8 (3).
The security of civil society is essential for economic, social and cultural development. Crime, corruption and civil disorder constitute serious threats to an equal, fair and prosperous community. Crime affects nearly all segments of society. The poor and the desperate as well as the rich and the powerful engage in criminal activities. In most parts of the world, including Hong Kong, public opinion polls typically indicate that crime and public order issues are rated as important social problems. In Hong Kong, there is no specialist criminology department or crime research agency with the role of providing co-ordinated research and advanced training in the many disciplines relevant to the study of crime and disorder. In the Department of Sociology, criminology, the fundamental discipline, has been established and offers a basis upon which to meet existing needs and advance essential local knowledge of the problems of crime and order in Hong Kong and the neighbouring region. The proposal for establishing a Centre for Criminology enables the University to more effectively engage in this important field of academic and practical endeavour.
In Hong Kong several public agencies are engaged in crime control and the maintenance of public order involving considerable public expenditure. Over 50,000 persons are engaged in crime control and in the maintenance of public order in key criminal justice agencies, and even larger numbers are employed in private security work. In the last two decades about 12 percent of annual government expenditure was devoted to the maintenance of security, an outlay that is exceeded only by the spending on health and education. When this figure is combined with the costs of crime to the community in terms of stolen property, physical injury and the investment of companies and individuals in crime prevention, the annual cost of crime to society runs into many billions of dollars. However, the investment in basic applied research is negligible compared to outlay. Consequently, there is a dearth of primary and evaluative research on criminological issues in Hong Kong and greater China.
The Importance of Crime Research
The need for co-ordination of local crime research thus has become acute and the government has indicated that they see the universities as the proper place for rigorous crime research to occur. Discussion with criminal justice agencies has indicated that they welcome the development of a dedicated criminology centre within the university sector that promotes local research and training. Many overseas universities provide basic and advanced training for personnel working in the field of criminal justice as well as undertaking research independently or on behalf of government into the many problems of crime. There are also a few universities which undertake the independent production of crime statistics and the monitoring and assessment of crime control activity. Thus there are a number of models upon which this proposal draws.
This lack of coordinated and sustained research affects the relevance and utility of the teaching programme, with too much dependence on overseas research. Moreover, basic foundation research is lacking and thus cannot inform government policy. For example, there are no prevalence studies of involvement in crime by young persons which can assist in assessing programmes designed to reduce young peoples' participation in crime and there are no reliable recidivism studies which can help evaluate the effectiveness of penal intervention and post release supervision.
While government agencies are significant sources of primary data their statistical collections are often limited, of variable quality, poorly documented, inaccessible, lack co-ordination and seldom constructed with policy and applied research in mind. A major task is the development of international standard linked criminal statistics so that trends in crime can be adequately monitored. Current reporting practices fall well short of desired standards of rigour and reliability. While the basic statistical infra-structure exists within government the application of advanced criminological research has yet to be realized. For example, these advanced methods include new techniques in recidivism, risk assessment, and criminal career research as well as novel approaches to programme evaluation. The need for long term planning and co-ordination of indigenous research is essential if the professionalisation and development of criminology is to achieve truly incremental improvements in the success of crime control programmes and policies.
Criminology - A Multi-disciplinary Approach to Crime and Public Order
Criminology has emerged as a major academic discipline in the social and behavioural sciences. Criminology encompasses the scientific approach to the study of crime, criminal behaviour, lawmaking, law enforcement, crime prevention, and the treatment of offenders. Criminologists are interested in the development of criminal law and its role in defining crime, the reasons why individuals violate the law, and the methods used to control criminal behaviour. The dominant theoretical orientation within criminology has been sociological, however, it has also been significantly influenced by such diverse fields of study as psychology, psychiatry, economics, political science, law, and biology. The study of criminology has provided essential knowledge about the nature and extent of crime, and about the causes and prevention of criminal behaviour. Interest in the creation and enforcement of criminal law has also provided valuable insights into the operation of the criminal justice system, and helped to encourage more effective and humane ways of controlling crime.
At present, research and training in criminology and criminal justice in Hong Kong are scattered among a number of tertiary institutions and across diverse disciplines such as statistics, psychology, psychiatry, pathology, geography, social work, political science, law, and sociology. This diversity is a reflection of the fact that the boundaries of criminal behaviour do not conform to disciplinary boundaries and that many disciplines are able to contribute to our understanding of crime and its control. However, the currently fragmented and piecemeal approach to research and training does not contribute to incremental gains in our understanding of crime and justice in Hong Kong and neighbouring regions. The establishment of a Centre of Criminology would provide a much needed focus for the development of multi-disciplinary and collaborative research, as well as assist in the promotion of advanced level training in this vital area.
The Faculty of Social Science is well positioned to assist in the creation of such a centre. Criminology has been continuously taught in the Faculty since its establishment in 1967. Within the Faculty teaching and research in criminology has been centred in the Department of Sociology. While other departments and staff are involved in some teaching and research related to criminology, only the Department of Sociology has sustained a long-term commitment to this field. The Department of Sociology founded Hong Kong's only postgraduate training programme in criminology (Master in Social Science. [Criminology]) and developed the curriculum for the Diploma in Criminal Justice which is currently offered by the School of Professional and Continuing Education. These programmes continue to attract a growing number of students and a significant number of research students.
Teachers and research students of the Department are routinely involved in crime research ranging across such topics as juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, violence, sexual offences, white collar crime, organised crime, crime prevention, victimisation, and correctional effectiveness. The Department's criminology programme has good international and regional links and has an established record in achieving high standards of competence in criminological research. The Centre would also be able to draw on academic expertise in the Law and Medical faculties, as well as from other departments in the Faculty of Social Sciences.
The establishment of a Centre dedicated to training and research in criminology would enable the University to fully develop institutional links with existing centres of criminology in the region, including Tokyo (e.g., United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders), Seoul (e.g., Korean Institute of Criminology), Taiwan (Central Police University and National Chung-Cheng University, Graduate Institute for Criminology), Canberra (e.g. Australian Institute of Criminology) and Beijing (e.g. Chinese People's University for Public Security and the Institute of Crime Prevention, Ministry of Justice). Such a Centre would be the first step in creating an indigenous teaching and research programme in criminology that is not only more responsive to the concerns of the local community but also has a role in regional crime and justice issues. Colleagues at the Chinese University, City University and other universities have indicated an interest in collaboration with the centre and this is to be encouraged through Centre Fellowship. The development of an institute structure will now be the focus of discussions on cross-university co-operation in the field of criminology and related areas. The Faculty of Social Sciences has a unique opportunity to support the establishment of a Centre of Criminology that actively engages in training of criminal justice personnel and facilitates essential research on issues which have an impact on local and regional security.
At the end of 1997 the criminology teachers in the Faculty of Social Sciences initiated a series of meetings with the relevant criminal justice and related agencies in order to clarify the need for a special sub-division of research and teaching in criminology. They developed a first stage area of excellence proposal in January 1998 which provided the rationale, need and recommended process for the development of a Centre for Criminology. Considerable interest was shown by the various government and non-government agencies in the setting up a of Centre within the university sector and a special forum was held to discuss the proposal on April 15, 1998. The forum was lead by Professor Roger Hood CBE, FBA, Fellow of All Souls Oxford and Director of the Centre for Criminology, Oxford University and "A Report on the Special Forum on Developing A Centre For Criminology" distributed to interested parties.
As a result of the encouragement and interest shown in the special forum the Department of Sociology co-ordinated a cross-agency working group to help formulate goals and plans for the development of a Centre for Criminology. The working group comprised senior officers of the Correctional Services Department, Customs and Excise Department, Immigration Department, Independent Commission Against Corruption, Justice Department, Police Service and, Social Welfare Department as well as representatives of the Departments of Sociology, Law and Social Work and Administration. The working group meet on three occasions: June 25, September 26 and November 16 and finalised the mission, objectives and structure of an Advisory Board for the proposed Centre. The Advisory Board for the Centre was seen as an essential link between the academy and practice. Through the good office of his Honour Chief Justice Andrew Li of the Court of Final Appeal, His Honour Justice Bokhary of the Court of Final Appeal has agreed to be the chair-designate of the Advisory Board of the Centre. Several agencies participating in the working group have agreed to support the Centre through participation in the Advisory Board.
Mission Statement and Objectives
The Centre is designed to provide a platform for coordinating crime and criminal justice research, as well as offering specialist and advanced professional training to criminal justice personnel. The Centre seeks to advance local knowledge and understanding of crime and justice and encourage collaborative and interdisciplinary research on the nature, extent and prevention of crime in the Hong Kong SAR, China and the region. The mission and specific objectives the Centre are as follows:
Mission Statement for the Centre for Criminology
To promote the development of criminological research, education and criminal justice policy and enhance the effectiveness of law enforcement, crime prevention and the treatment of offenders.
Aims and Objectives of the Centre for Criminology
1. undertake primary research on the causes, prevalence and frequency of crime;
2. undertake the evaluation of policing, anti-corruption, correctional and offender intervention/treatment programmes;
3. the development and evaluation of crime prevention and victim-centered programmes;
4. the integration and co-ordination of crime and justice statistics including an annual report of law and order statistics and trends for Hong Kong SAR and neigbouring jurisdictions;
5. ensure advanced teaching in criminology, criminal behaviour and criminal justice administration;
6. recommend to government policies on crime, law and order;
7. develop a comprehensive system of offender risk assessment and provide advice to government and industry in security risk;
8. provide a clearinghouse for new innovations in crime and justice and disseminate relevant local and international research including international crime trends;
9. contribute to the education of the community [and mass media] on issues related to crime, justice and law and order;
10. establish institutional links with international and regional kindred organizations in order to address the increasing globalisation of cross-border crime, terrorism and illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and other contraband.
Structure of the Centre - Advisory Board
The administration of the Centre will be the responsibility of an honorary Director who will be appointed by the university. The Director of the Centre will also be the executive officer of the Advisory Board and shall be responsible to the Chair for the co-ordination of the Board and activities of the Centre. The Centre for Criminology will be initially based in and administratively supported by the Department of Sociology.
The Centre will have the right to accept donations, bid for research funds and to spend them in accordance with the rules issued from time to time by the Finance Office of the University. Funds will be administered by the University Finance Office, and in the event that Centre is disbanded all funds will be returned to the University.
Membership of the Advisory Board shall reflect the interests of the criminal justice and criminological community of Hong Kong. The Board shall meet at least twice a year and report annually to the Faculty of Social Sciences and the University on the activities, staff, research and programmes of the Centre. The Board may co-opt from time to time members of the University or officers of the constituent agencies and relevant non-government organisations in order to provide appropriate advice in respect to the activities of the Centre. The role and activities of the Advisory Board shall be as follows:
1. Promote the aims and objectives of the Centre.
2. Review the work of the Centre and refine its objectives and mission in the light of experience and changes in practice.
3. Advise the Faculty of Social Sciences and University on the development of the M.Soc.Sci. [Criminology], undergraduate and other courses in criminology and the curriculum and regulations of the proposed part-time Bachelor of Criminal Justice under development with the School of Professional and Continuing Education.
4. Formulate research priorities for the Centre and establish a sub-committee for the development of an integrated crime data information base and appropriate means for access to data for research purposes.
5. Establish an editorial board for the development of a multi-lingual journal and publish the results of research of the members of the Centre in the form of occasional papers or monographs.
6. Formalize links with international, national and local kindred organisations and establish a web-site and create appropriate links with other relevant web- sites.
7. Co-ordinate regional and international conferences on crime and conduct a local programme of seminars for practitioners.
Membership of the Advisory Board
Chair Designate: Hon. Mr. Justice Bokhary, Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Director of Centre: Executive officer of the Advisory Board [appointed by the University in an honorary capacity]
Members: Correctional Services Department; Customs and Excise Department; Immigration Department; Independent Commission Against Corruption; Justice Department; Police Service and; Social Welfare Department.
Academic Members: Faculties of Law, Medicine and Social Science
Fellows of the Centre
Fellows, Associate Fellows and Visiting Fellows of the Centre may be
appointed from time to time on the advice of the Board. Membership of the
Centre will, on application, be open to the academic staff of the University
of Hong Kong [Fellows] or other tertiary institutions, kindred organisations
or practitioners [Associate Fellows] who are active in criminology or criminal
justice. The Board may recommend the appointment from time to time of Visiting
Fellows or Honorary Fellows in recognition of their contributions to criminology
and criminal justice.