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About the Collection

Victoria Prison
The First Prison in Hong Kong

Victoria Gaol, one of the earliest buildings erected by the British in 1841, had been Hong Kong's first and the only main prison until 1937. The Gaol was renamed several times reflecting its change of functions over the years. Victoria Prison's decommission in 2005 ended its role after 165 years of service in Hong Kong. This collection allows readers to gain more in-depth information on the development of Hong Kong's penal policy and programme through changes happened to and within Victoria Prison.

Renaming Victoria Prison:

1841-1937- Victoria Gaol
1939-1965- Victoria Remand Prison
1967-1977- Victoria Reception Centre
1977-2005- Victoria Prison

The original gaol buildings of the 1840s were long demolished with newer prison buildings erected in situ and by phases addressing the accommodation needs of the prison and reflecting the changing penal philosophy at the time.

Apart from the two-year closure and during the time of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong in December 1941 till shortly after the War in 1946, Victoria Prison had always been a working prison housing remands, prisoners and detainees of both sexes at various times. The name of Victoria Remand Prison was changed to Victoria Reception Centre in 1965 and in 1977 changed to Victoria Prison to reflect its different functions. Victoria Prison was finally decommissioned in December 2005, ending its role as a penal establishment after 165 years of service in Hong Kong.

Being an integral part of the criminal justice system in Hong Kong in dealing with remand or sentenced prisoners, Victoria Prison witnessed changes in penal policies from colonial penality with emphasis in deterrence and control to modern custodial and rehabilitative services for offenders in Hong Kong. Owing to the nature of the service, prisons in Hong Kong are operated behind walls and fences and closed to the public. Very limited information was made available to the public on the work on Hong Kong's prison and correctional services until 1998 when the Correctional Services Department set up a Rehabilitation Division and began to conduct active campaigns to publicise its work to secure community support on its modern correctional philosophy and the related offender rehabilitation programmes.