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postgraduate thesis: Drug law enforcement: a sociological case study of the Hong Kong customs and excise service

TitleDrug law enforcement: a sociological case study of the Hong Kong customs and excise service
Authors
Issue Date2012
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
AbstractSociological literature on law enforcement discretion in drug related offences has been sparse with practically no similar research conducted in Hong Kong. This study therefore contributes to the comparative literature by exploring factors affecting customs officers’ decision to make dangerous drug arrests. Quantitative analyses were conducted to understand the importance of organizational and individual variables to an officer’s arrest behavior. Furthermore, officer’s interpretation of indirect factors was derived from in-depth interviews. Results showed that most officers were inclined to make arrests when in a team and on duty, indicating that individuals behaved relative to significant others as shown in previous academic studies. Additional remuneration (by time-off or pay) was an incentive to arrest. Furthermore, the legality of the arrest decision (a factor identified in previous research) was found in this study to be more important than obeying superior’s orders. Even where officers lacked practical experience in handling dangerous drugs offences, they were more willing to arrest than without supplementary remuneration. Only a minority of officers reported that they would make an arrest when off duty, or when in a non-drug enforcement post, in line with earlier researches. Where officers were alone, they tended to abstain from arresting, which demonstrated the lesser importance of generalized others in arrest decisions. As with other researches, where there was a risk of disciplinary punishment, fewer officers made an arrest to the majority. In terms of individual factors, officers with experience in drug investigation became less risk averse and more inclined to arrest regardless of supplementary remuneration, when on duty and where they themselves had no practical experience in handling drug cases. As proposed by earlier research, socialization appeared an important influence on discretion in this study. The positive impact of higher education on officer motivation to make arrests regardless of remuneration terms corresponds to findings by other scholars. Furthermore, officers with specialized training were more willing to arrest when on duty and alone, supporting studies on qualifications. Officers in the promotional ranks had a higher tendency to make arrests under conditions without supplementary remuneration, when they were on duty and alone, and when in a non-drug enforcement post (together with officers in the rank of Customs Officers for the latter). However, officers’ tendency to arrest decreased over length of service regardless of team influence, where they had not acquired arrest skills. This endorsed findings from other studies that motivation decreased over time. This study showed that team dynamics and exposure in drug investigation were the most important organizational and individual factors correlating positively with customs officers’ discretion to make dangerous drug arrests.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectDrug control - China - Hong Kong.
Dept/ProgramSociology

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorChiu, Wing-kay, Jessica.-
dc.contributor.author趙穎琦.-
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.description.abstractSociological literature on law enforcement discretion in drug related offences has been sparse with practically no similar research conducted in Hong Kong. This study therefore contributes to the comparative literature by exploring factors affecting customs officers’ decision to make dangerous drug arrests. Quantitative analyses were conducted to understand the importance of organizational and individual variables to an officer’s arrest behavior. Furthermore, officer’s interpretation of indirect factors was derived from in-depth interviews. Results showed that most officers were inclined to make arrests when in a team and on duty, indicating that individuals behaved relative to significant others as shown in previous academic studies. Additional remuneration (by time-off or pay) was an incentive to arrest. Furthermore, the legality of the arrest decision (a factor identified in previous research) was found in this study to be more important than obeying superior’s orders. Even where officers lacked practical experience in handling dangerous drugs offences, they were more willing to arrest than without supplementary remuneration. Only a minority of officers reported that they would make an arrest when off duty, or when in a non-drug enforcement post, in line with earlier researches. Where officers were alone, they tended to abstain from arresting, which demonstrated the lesser importance of generalized others in arrest decisions. As with other researches, where there was a risk of disciplinary punishment, fewer officers made an arrest to the majority. In terms of individual factors, officers with experience in drug investigation became less risk averse and more inclined to arrest regardless of supplementary remuneration, when on duty and where they themselves had no practical experience in handling drug cases. As proposed by earlier research, socialization appeared an important influence on discretion in this study. The positive impact of higher education on officer motivation to make arrests regardless of remuneration terms corresponds to findings by other scholars. Furthermore, officers with specialized training were more willing to arrest when on duty and alone, supporting studies on qualifications. Officers in the promotional ranks had a higher tendency to make arrests under conditions without supplementary remuneration, when they were on duty and alone, and when in a non-drug enforcement post (together with officers in the rank of Customs Officers for the latter). However, officers’ tendency to arrest decreased over length of service regardless of team influence, where they had not acquired arrest skills. This endorsed findings from other studies that motivation decreased over time. This study showed that team dynamics and exposure in drug investigation were the most important organizational and individual factors correlating positively with customs officers’ discretion to make dangerous drug arrests.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B47849721-
dc.subject.lcshDrug control - China - Hong Kong.-
dc.titleDrug law enforcement: a sociological case study of the Hong Kong customs and excise service-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb4784972-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineSociology-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b4784972-
dc.date.hkucongregation2012-

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