Over the years Hong Kong has developed an internationally acclaimed correctional system, which places increasing emphasis on correction, rehabilitation of persons in custody, as well as community education. The Correctional Services Department (CSD) runs a comprehensive range of rehabilitation programmes targeting different types of persons in custody such as young offenders, drug dependants, first-time offenders and recidivists.
With an establishment of 7 254 posts, CSD manages 29 correctional facilities comprising correctional institutions, half-way houses and custodial wards of public hospitals. The correctional institutions include minimum, medium and maximum security prisons, detention centres for immigration detainees, a psychiatric centre and training, detention, rehabilitation and drug addiction treatment centres. Apart from 24 correctional institutions, there are three half-way houses and two custodial wards, which altogether accommodate about 7 800 persons. CSD also provides statutory supervision with around 1 200 persons under active supervision as at end of 2022.
For the health of persons in custody, CSD actively supports the Government’s anti-smoking policy and promotes a no smoking culture among persons in custody through various anti-smoking measures including education, propaganda, counseling and smoking cessation courses. Pak Sha Wan Correctional Institution has been assigned as a “No Smoking Correctional Facility” to accommodate adult persons in custody who do not smoke. Besides, the Department has set up “no-smoking zones” in other institutions including Stanley Prison, Lo Wu Correctional Institution and Tung Tau Correctional Institution. To encourage and facilitate persons in custody to quit smoking, the Department, in 2018 and for the first time, cooperated with the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health for arranging persons in custody to participate in the “Quit to Win” Smoke-free Community Campaign organised by the Council, University of Hong Kong School of Public Health and School of Nursing.
To tie in with the Government’s policy to actively promote the development of “Smart City”, CSD is proactively developing “Smart Prison”. Since 2018, various technology projects, such as “Video Analytic Monitoring System”, “Integrated Intelligent Communication System for Persons in Custody”, “Contactless Vital Sign Monitoring System”, etc., have been rolled out in several correctional institutions under four major system categories for strategic development, namely “Security and Monitoring System”, “Operation and Management System”, “Person in Custody Self-management System” and “Staff Capacity Enhancement System”, with a view to raising management efficiency, the level of security of correctional institutions and the effectiveness of rehabilitation programmes. With reference to the experience gained from the trial runs of technology projects, CSD has made modifications, introducing new elements and conducting system integration so as to convert Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution into a first-generation smart prison that it has started operation in mid 2021. In addition, CSD is developing the IT project "Integrated Custodial and Rehabilitation Management System", which integrates the existing eight core operation systems and introduces innovation technology such as Staff Handheld Device, Persons in Custody Self-Service Kiosk, etc.
Adult Male Persons in Custody: CSD operates 9 correctional institutions for adult male persons in custody. Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre accommodates persons awaiting trial and newly-convicted persons pending classification and allocation to other institutions.
Stanley Prison, the largest maximum-security prison, houses persons serving life or long-term sentences and persons awaiting trial. Another maximum-security prison, Shek Pik Prison, houses those serving medium to long-term sentences including life imprisonment.
The three minimum-security prisons are Tung Tau Correctional Institution, Pik Uk Prison and Tai Lam Correctional Institution. Elderly persons in custody of low security risk, generally aged over 65, are housed at Tai Lam Correctional Institution. Furthermore, some persons awaiting trial have been assigned to Tung Tau Correctional Institution since mid 2021 to alleviate the overcrowding situation of Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre and Stanley Prison.
Young Male Persons in Custody: Pik Uk Correctional Institution, a maximum-security institution, houses remand and convicted young persons in custody.
Sha Tsui Correctional Institution, is a minimum-security institution, operates as a detention centre and training centre. For detention centre detainees, it emphasises strict discipline, hard work and counselling. Detention varies from one to six months for offenders aged between 14 and under 21, and three to twelve months for those aged between 21 and under 25. There is a twelve-month supervision following release. Those committed to the training centre receive a period of training from six months to three years. Release is followed by a three-year compulsory supervision. The above young persons in custody have to participate in a programme based on half-day education and half-day vocational training.
Lai Chi and Lai Hang Rehabilitation Centres house young male persons in custody for an aggregate period of three to nine months. The “Rehabilitation Centre Programme” focuses on reformation of young offenders, who are subject to one year’s supervision after release.
Adult Female Persons in Custody: There are two correctional institutions for female adults. Tai Lam Centre for Women is a maximum-security institution functioning as a remand centre and a prison for adult women. Lo Wu Correctional Institution is the newest institution for female adults, with one minimum-security wing and two medium- security wings.
Young Female Persons in Custody: Lai King Correctional Institution, a minimum-security institution, operates as a reception centre, training centre, drug addiction treatment centre and prison for young female persons in custody aged between 14 and under 21. Chi Lan and Wai Lan Rehabilitation Centres accommodate young female persons in custody under the “Rehabilitation Centre Programme”.
Adult Male Detainees: Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution, a minimum-security institution, is used for detaining adult male detainees under the provisions of the Immigration Ordinance.
Adult Female Detainees: Nei Kwu Correctional Institution, a minimum-security institution, is used for detaining adult female detainees under the provisions of the Immigration Ordinance.
Drug Addiction Treatment: CSD runs a compulsory treatment programme for convicted drug addicts. It provides the courts with an alternative to imprisonment. Hei Ling Chau Addiction Treatment Centre accommodates adult male drug abusers while Lai Sun Correctional Institution accommodates both adult and young male drug abusers. Adult and young female drug abusers are accommodated at Lo Wu Correctional Institution and Lai King Correctional Institution respectively. Inmates have to undergo the treatment programme for two to twelve months, which is based on discipline and open-air physical activities including work programmes and therapy, and is supported by one-year post release statutory supervision.
Psychiatric assessment and treatment: Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre provides psychiatric treatment for the criminally insane, dangerous and violent persons in custody. Persons sentenced under the Mental Health Ordinance and those requiring psychiatric assessment or treatment are accommodated in the Psychiatric Centre. Visiting psychiatrists of the Hospital Authority also provide psychiatric assessments for the courts. Males and females are located at separate sections therein.
Industries and Vocational Training: CSD keeps persons in custody purposely and gainfully occupied for maintaining prison stability. In the pursuit of offender rehabilitation, the Industries and Vocational Training Section helps persons in custody reintegrate into society through acquisition of skills from industrial work and enhances their employability by providing market oriented vocational training.
In 2022, a daily average of 3 475 persons in custody were engaged in industrial work to provide a wide range of goods and services for the public sector in a cost effective manner. Examples are office furniture, staff uniforms, hospital linen, leather products, filter masks, fiberglass products, traffic signs, metal railings, slabs and kerbs for infrastructure projects. Persons in custody also provide laundry services for the Hospital Authority, Department of Health and Fire Services Department. They laminate books for public libraries, undertake printing work and make file jackets and envelopes for government departments. The commercial value of these goods and services was $447 million.
A series of diversified and market-oriented vocational training programmes with recognised accreditation are organised for both young and adult persons in custody to strengthen their capability for future employment and enhance reintegration.
For young persons in custody, CSD provides half-day compulsory training on information technology, commercial and service industry training. Equal importance is placed on theoretical and practical aspects of the curriculum which prepare them for further training after release.
For adult persons in custody, CSD provides pre-release vocational training courses on a full-time and part-time voluntary basis in various adult institutions. Convicted adult persons in custody engaged in industrial production are trained to acquire trade specific skills. Where appropriate, CSD helps them obtain skill accreditation by enrolling them in relevant trade tests conducted by vocational training organisations, or applying through the Recognition of Prior Learning Scheme under the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework.
Statutory Supervision: To ensure continuous care and guidance, statutory supervision is provided for young persons in custody; persons released from training, detention, rehabilitation and drug addiction treatment centres; and those released under various schemes such as the Release Under Supervision Scheme (RUSS), Pre-release Employment Scheme (PRES), Post-release Supervision of Prisoners Scheme (PRSS), Conditional Release Scheme (CRS) and Supervision After Release Scheme (SARS). During the supervision period, supervising officers work closely with rehabilitated persons and their families to help foster good relationship between them and help them face challenges and demands upon their return to the community. Regular contacts are maintained with every rehabilitated person. Close supervision continues after discharge through frequent visits to supervisees’ home or place of work throughout the supervision period.
CSD runs three half-way houses — Phoenix House in Lung Yan Road for young supervisees released from detention, training and drug addiction treatment centres; Pelican House which is annexed to Phoenix House for persons in custody released under the RUSS, PRES and CRS as well as adults from drug addiction treatment centres and supervisees released under the PRSS with accommodation needs; and Bauhinia House in Tai Lam Chung for female persons released under the RUSS, PRES and CRS and female supervisees released from training and drug addiction treatment centres.
Success rates mean the percentage of supervisees who complete the statutory supervision without reconviction. For supervisees from drug addiction treatment centre, they must also remain drug free. In 2021, the success rates were: detention centre (100 per cent), training centres (77 per cent), drug addiction treatment centres (48 per cent), rehabilitation centres (97 per cent), young persons in custody under Prison Programme (96 per cent), RUSS (100 per cent), PRES (100 per cent), SARS (100 per cent), CRS (100 per cent) and PRSS (98 per cent). Altogether, 624 males and 102 females completed statutory supervision in 2021 whereas 882 males and 153 females were under active supervision as at end of 2021.
Welfare and Counselling Services: CSD looks after the welfare of persons in custody by providing assistance and guidance to help them solve their personal problems and cope with difficulties arising from detention. CSD also organizes programmes such as Sentence Planning Scheme to encourage persons in custody serving long-term sentences to rehabilitate, and the Pre-release Re-integration Orientation Courses to prepare them for release.
To further improve rehabilitation programmes for persons in custody through community involvement, CSD officers work closely with rehabilitation synergistic partners to provide rehabilitation programmes. Around 100 NGOs/ charity organisations/ synergistic partners/ community stakeholders run cultural, religious and recreational projects, provide counselling and services to address the rehabilitation needs of persons in custody.
Psychological Services: Psychological programmes are provided for persons in custody to improve their psychological well-being and help change their offending behaviour. Psychological assessments are provided for the courts, review boards and institution management to facilitate their decision making and management of persons in custody. Therapeutic programmes for persons in custody include Offending Behaviour Programme for young persons in custody which targets criminogenic factors related to offending, the Drug Abuse Rehabilitation Programme for drug abusers in drug addiction treatment centres and the Violence Prevention Programme and systematic treatment programmes in the Evaluation and Treatment Unit respectively for adult persons in custody with violent offending behaviours and sex offending behaviours, which aim at changing their offending behavior.
To address the special treatment needs of drug abusers, CSD has introduced the clinical use of mindfulness in the psychological treatment programme by setting up the “Mindfulness Corner” in Nei Kwu Correctional Institution in May 2017 for female drug abusers to integrate for the first time mindfulness components into the drug rehabilitation programme. In July 2020, CSD launched the first mindfulness-based psychological treatment programme, the Mindfulness Place, for male drug abusers in Hei Ling Chau Addiction Treatment Centre for drug treatment. Gender-specific and systematic psychological treatment programmes are provided to adult female persons in custody in the PSY GYM – Personal Growth and Emotion Treatment Centre for Women to help them develop a constructive lifestyle. The Life Gym – positive living centre for men was launched in October 2020 to provide male-responsive psychological treatment programmes. The programmes incorporate innovative treatment elements including Virtual Reality Psychological Assessment and Treatment Tool, and therapeutic sports and electronic games to help participants desist from crime and cultivate positive living. In 2021, the groundbreaking digitalised psychological programme Psyber Space for adult persons in custody was launched. This interesting and interactive psychological programme delivered in tablet computers promotes the psychological well-being of the participants. The family-based psychological treatment was introduced to Tong Fuk Correctional Institution in the same year. Through diversified therapeutic activities, this programme helps participants rebuild positive family relationship and outlook on life which facilitates their positive reintegration into the community. To encourage family members’ participation in the rehabilitation of young persons in custody, an enhanced Inmate-Parent Programme – “Heart Start” was introduced to further address the latest needs of young offenders in nowadays families. The age-responsive treatment unit specialized for young offenders “Youth Lab” has been set up in Pik Uk Correctional Institution in July 2022 to cultivate pro-social orientation and to facilitate positive youth development. “MindTools”, the stimulating, purposefully-produced intervention video-clips for use in computer tablets, have been introduced to promote psychoeducation and consolidate practice of psychological skills.
Psychological services are also offered to staff and their family members, providing mental health promotion, psychological intervention, stress management training, etc. A healthy and balanced lifestyle has been actively promoted by the Department. In early 2020, the Psychological Services Section has incorporated elements of “resilience building” into the training sessions for new recruits, and uploaded related information and tips onto social media platforms for staff viewing, strengthening their positive mental condition to face various challenges ahead.
Targeted Rehabilitation Programme - Project PATH: In recent years, quite a number of radical persons involved in serious offences have been admitted to correctional institutions. Many of them were incited to commit wrongdoings, or have gone astray after being influenced by radical thoughts. As some of these persons in custody do not have a thorough understanding of our country or even hold some wrong perceptions, it is necessary for CSD to assist them to obtain a better understanding of Chinese history and culture, and enhance their sense of national identity. Having regard to the rehabilitation needs of these persons in custody, CSD has launched the Project PATH. With reference to the three major rehabilitation directions, namely understanding Chinese history and strengthening national education, psychological reconstruction and re-establishment of values, and life planning and rebuilding of family relationships, the Project PATH aims to assist persons in custody who have committed crimes due to radical thoughts to rebuild positive values and face positively the challenges ahead.
Project JET: The project was launched in October 2022 by the Department to provide “one-stop” training and career development opportunities for persons in custody, with a view to encouraging them to make life planning early, so that they can contribute to society by utilising their talents. Activities under the project include: (1) life planning – to provide talks and workshops on life planning for persons in custody in correctional institutions; (2) in-house training – to provide relevant professional training for persons in custody; (3) post-release internship – to provide post-release internship opportunities in Hong Kong or the Greater Bay Area for persons in custody who have completed relevant training; (4) official employment – to offer full-time employment to rehabilitated persons with good performance during the internship; and (5) mentoring scheme – to match rehabilitated persons with appropriate mentors as life mentors to teach them work skills and provide life education during their internship and official employment.
Education: Half-day education classes are provided for young persons in custody. The programmes enable them to improve their academic standards. Adult persons in custody are also encouraged to participate voluntarily in self-study courses or distance learning for tertiary education. CSD actively provides assistance to persons in custody for their studies and they are encouraged to take part in local and international accredited public examinations to attain accreditations and qualifications which are conducive to their smooth reintegration into the society. CSD and the Hong Kong Metropolitan University (HKMU) also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to further strengthen co-operation and affirm the long-term partnership between CSD and HKMU in education, so as to provide more comprehensive support for persons in custody who wish to continue their studies.
Community Engagement: CSD reaches out to the community to seek public’s engagement for offender rehabilitation. Among other partners, the Committee on Community Support for Rehabilitated Offenders, composed of leaders and professionals from different walks of life, advises on rehabilitation strategies, notably publicity programmes.
Ongoing activities promoting offender rehabilitation have been organised to establish a bridge between persons in custody and the society. Through activities such as District-based Publicity activities on Offender Rehabilitation of District Fight Crime Committees, Thank-you NGO Month, NGO Forum and Award Presentation Ceremony for Volunteers of CSD Rehabilitation Volunteer Group (CSDRVG), members of the public can better understand the importance of community acceptance and participation to persons in custody. In particular, CSDRVG organises activities in meeting the rehabilitation needs of persons in custody. With more than 100 active volunteers, the Group conducted language courses, computer studies, cultural pursuits, etc., in various correctional institutions for the voluntary participation of persons in custody according to their own needs.
Rehabilitation Pioneer Project (RPP): The RPP includes a series of community education activities such as Education Talks, Personal Encounter with Prisoners Scheme, Green Haven Scheme, Visits to Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum, Extended Training Camp, Student Forum, Drama and Music Performance of “Creation and Rehabilitation”, the Reflective Path, Summer Camp, Mission in Prison, Rehabilitation Express (RehEx) and the setting up of a uniformed group “Rehabilitation Pioneer Leaders” to disseminate to the public the messages of safeguarding our country and home, leading a law-abiding and drug-free life as well as supporting offender rehabilitation.
The Education Talks provide basic information on Hong Kong’s criminal justice system and CSD’s custodial and rehabilitative programmes. The Personal Encounter with Prisoners Scheme instills anti-crime awareness by arranging young students to visit correctional institutions and meet with persons in custody for experience sharing. The Green Haven Scheme promotes anti-drug messages and the importance of environmental protection among young people. Participants meet with young persons in custody at treatment centres on Hei Ling Chau, gaining insight into the detrimental effects of drug abuse. Visits to Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum foster participants’ understanding of the correctional services over the past 100 years. The Student Forum stimulates students’ introspection and participation through an interactive platform and a sharing session by a rehabilitated person. The Extended Training Camp, which lasts for three days and two nights, features a series of discipline training activities aiming at enhancing participants’ confidence and developing their positive values. The Drama and Music Performance of “Creation and Rehabilitation” enables students to enjoy drama and music performances presented by persons in custody to convey messages of the importance of obeying the law. The Reflective Path aims at enhancing students’ understanding of the criminal judicial system and correctional services, as well as the heavy cost for committing crimes through the simulation of imprisonment.
In addition, different competitions targeting the youth are organised by CSD every year to disseminate the messages of leading a law-abiding and drug-free life as well as supporting offender rehabilitation. Prize winners of the competitions will be arranged to join a Mainland tour. Participants will attend adventure-based training and visits to schools and families in rural areas, an eco-friendly factory of a global enterprise as well as large-scale infrastructure, so as to provide them with an all-round learning experience conducive to their whole-person development. The “Mission in Prison” activity incorporates the concept of smart prison to turn a real prison into a unique "classroom". Participants of the activity will become correctional officers to carry out various tasks, thereby deepening their understanding of the duties of CSD staff, and enabling them to observe from another perspective the custodial environment and life in prisons, with a view to enhancing their awareness of the dire consequences of committing crimes. RehEx is a brand-new community education activity of CSD tailor-made for primary school students to enhance the promotion of national security, national education, crime prevention, as well as anti-drug and support for rehabilitation messages to primary school students through electronic games and dodgebee, a newly emerged sport. Rehabilitation Pioneer Leaders is a youth uniformed group established in July 2018. Youngsters with leadership potential are recruited, brought together and offered diversified training with a view to broadening their horizon, developing their potential and discipline, enhancing a sense of national identity, strengthening a sense of belonging to our country and home as well as social responsibility for encouraging them to actively contribute to the society in the future by helping promote law-abiding and inclusive value.
Religious Services: A full-time Chaplain co-ordinates the planning and provision of religious services. He is assisted by a number of volunteer Chaplains who visit and conduct services for persons in custody. Many volunteers of other religions and rehabilitation synergistic partners also provide a wide range of spiritual and social services in institutions.
Multi-purpose Family and Rehabilitation Service Centres (MFRSC): The set up of MFRSC aims to provide psychological and counselling services for rehabilitated offenders and their families, as well as a video social visit service for relatives and friends of persons in custody so as to strengthen the connection between persons in custody and their relatives and friends, so that visitors who are unable to visit correctional institutions due to old age, pregnancy, disabilities or other special reasons can make an appointment for a video visit.
Medical & Health Care in Institutions: All institutions have on-premises hospitals and are staffed by qualified healthcare personnel. In collaboration with the Medical Officers from the Department of Health, round-the-clock basic health care services are provided in all institutions. Persons in custody who need further treatment and investigations are referred to visiting specialists or public hospital for follow-up.
Visiting Justices: Two visiting Justices of the Peace visit each penal institution fortnightly or monthly, depending on the type of facility. The Justices of the Peace carry out relevant statutory duties such as investigating complaints made to them by persons in custody, inspecting diets and examining buildings and accommodation facilities. Visits are made at times and on days of their own choice within a prescribed period without prior notice.
Staff Training: The Hong Kong Correctional Services Academy (HKCSA) is responsible for planning and implementing training programmes to equip staff with job knowledge to follow and achieve the Vision, Mission and Values of the Department.
The HKCSA organises and delivers various training programmes. We aim to transform the traditional training mode into Smart Training to promote a full scale development in human resources. Newly-recruited Officers and Assistant Officers II have to undergo 26-week and 23-week recruit training respectively with operational knowledge of the CSD, virtual reality training, scenario training at training facilities, tactical training and field placement at correctional institutions. Professional development training courses such as refresher courses, job-related training courses, professional management training courses and command training courses are regularly conducted at the HKCSA to foster individuals’ work efficacy and their career development. The HKCSA continues to strengthen collaboration with external training partners, including local and overseas tertiary institutions, as well as Mainland and overseas training organisations. It also appoints relevant professionals and members of the academia as Honorary Advisors.
To strengthen the professionalism in training, the HKCSA has been accredited as a Level 5 Operator by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ) and has been organising accredited training programmes under the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework (HKQF). For instance, in 2019, the 23-week “Professional Diploma in Correctional Services (Assistant Officer)” for newly recruited Assistant Officers was successfully accredited by the HKCAAVQ as a Level 4 programme under the HKQF, which is pitched at the same QF Level as a local Associate Degree or a Higher Diploma in the academic discipline. Later in 2021, the 26-week “Professional Diploma in Correctional Management (Officer)” for newly recruited Officers was successfully accredited by the HKCAAVQ as a Level 5 programme under the HKQF, which is pitched at the same QF Level as a local Bachelor Degree in the academic discipline.
To further enhance the culture of continuing education and life-long learning, the Department has developed and established a Knowledge Management System (KMS) since 2010, a one-stop online platform for learning, experience sharing and knowledge succession. In order to maximise staff learning effectiveness with the use of learning technologies, new features are incorporated into KMS from time to time. The CSD has won the Hong Kong Most Innovative Knowledge Enterprise (MIKE) Award and the Global MIKE Award for five consecutive years from 2018 to 2022. The knowledge management and innovation of the CSD are internationally acclaimed.
Caring for all: Apart from performing their daily duties, CSD staff is encouraged to extend their spirit of caring for community by participating in various charitable activities such as voluntary work for fund-raising activities and offering advices to rehabilitation synergistic partners that provide services to rehabilitated offenders, etc.
In recognition of the department's continuing and total commitment in caring for the well-being of staff. Their families and the community as a whole, CSD was awarded the “15 Years Plus Caring Organisation Logo” again in the year 2021/22 by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, having also been presented with the renowned “Total Caring Award” in the year 2007/08.