Justin Willis
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Thieves, drunkards and vagrants
Defining crime in colonial Mombasa, 1902–32
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The narrow definition of crime, and the avoidance of certain duties, that characterised the Police Department throughout Kenya was thus further encouraged in Mombasa by the near impossibility of policing certain forms of crime. Statistical evidence on crime in early colonial Mombasa is scanty, so that all comments on the nature and activities of the police must be to some extent impressionistic. The ability of the police to set their own agenda, and to avoid policing some laws, was challenged in the late 1920s when they were again drawn into conflict with casual labour. Vagrancy had for some time defied official action, since the original legislation on the subject, the Vagrancy Regulations, was aimed at 'disreputable Europeans' and required that those imprisoned for vagrancy should be given waged work.

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Policing the empire

Government, Authority and Control, 1830–1940


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