Heads of the Force 1841-1945

2 Photos

After the founding of Hong Kong, Charles Elliot, the British Plenipotentiary, appointed Captain William Caine of the 26th Infantry Regiment as Chief Police Magistrate to maintain law and order on the island. Having the post filled by a military man reflected the infancy of the occupation.

Thereafter, Mr Caine appointed Captain Haly and Captain J. Bruce to the post of Acting Superintendent, but the results were far from satisfactory.

On May 1, 1844, the Colonial Government of Hong Kong passed Ordinance No. 12, which provided for the establishment of a police force. The post of Superintendent was filled by Charles May who had experience in police work in Britain. It was the first time the Police Force was led by a police officer. William Quin, who succeeded Mr May in 1862, had served the police force in Bombay. From his office onwards, the title was changed to Captain Superintendent of Police. However, when Walter Meredith Deane succeeded Mr Quin in 1867, a precedent was set of having a Cadet Officer from Britain to head the Hong Kong Police Force.

Longest-serving Police head

Mr Deane was the longest-serving Captain Superintendent to date, holding his appointment for 25 years. When Mr Deane retired in 1892, Major-General Alexander H. A. Gordon, who was the Superintendent of Victoria Goal, filled the post of Captain Superintendent of Police. Major-General Gordon was on sick leave in February 1893, and died in that month. Francis Henry May who succeeded Mr Gordon in 1893 was also a Cadet Officer, and the Assistant Colonial Secretary before his appointment as Captain Superintendent.

Police head became Governor

Mr F. H. May's excellent performance as Captain Superintendent propelled him to the position of Colonial Secretary. Eventually he was made Governor of Fiji. In 1912, he returned to Hong Kong as its Governor, becoming the only Head of the Police Force who became the Governor of Hong Kong.

The Captain Superintendents (title changed to Inspector-General of Police in 1930) after Mr F. H. May - Joseph Francis Badeley, Charles McIlvaine, Edward Dudley Corscaden Wolfe and Thomas Henry King - were all Cadet Officers when joining the Colonial Government in Hong Kong and were assigned to work in the Police Force. In April 1941, J. P. Pennefather-Evans arrived in Hong Kong from Britain to take up the post of Commissioner of Police, breaking the precedent of appointing a Cadet Officer who had gained much experience from his long service in the Colonial Government or the Police Force.

The Pacific War broke out six months after Mr J. P. Pennefather-Evans' arrival, and he was interned in the Stanley Internment Camp after the Colonial Government's surrender to the Japanese.

(Watch out the next issue for the heads of the Force after 1945.)

Walter Meredith Deane

Sir Francis Henry May (seated in the front row fourth from left) took over the post of Captain Superintendent of Police in 1893

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