The Correctional Services Department (CSD) today (August 5) concluded a series of education and anti-gambling operations that combated gambling activities in correctional institutions during the World Cup 2014 period. The operations detected bets, relating to football gambling, involving 960 packets of cigarettes with an estimated total value of about HK$160,000 in the black market.
The department's Senior Superintendent (Quality Assurance), Mr Tse Ho-yin, said that the CSD strictly forbids persons in custody to gamble in correctional institutions and strives to combat all forms of gambling activities.
Mr Tse said that during the World Cup period, the CSD strengthened its large-scale joint search and night raid operations to combat gambling activities in correctional institutions with remarkable results.
Anti-gambling measures were implemented from the beginning of this year. These actions included:
* Strengthening the collection of intelligence: CSD staff collected intelligence from persons in custody and identified suspected bankers, agents and gamblers.
* Stepping up supervision: Target persons and persons in custody who had participated in gambling activities before were closely supervised to gather evidence. During the period, persons in custody who were suspected of being involved in gambling activities were separated or transferred away from their original dormitories or institutions to minimise their chance of engaging in gambling activities.
* Preventing persons in custody from gaining access to gambling information: Before distributing newspapers and publications to persons in custody, all supplements and reports on horse-racing, soccer and basketball betting odds were removed.
* Stepping up special searches: Special searches and raids were conducted frequently. During the World Cup period, the department conducted 399 search operations, including 324 special searches, 30 night raids and 45 joint search operations. A total of 28 soccer betting slips and 23 items of homemade gambling equipment of different kinds were seized.
* Taking disciplinary action: Disciplinary actions were taken against persons who participated in gambling activities. The punishments imposed included forfeiture of remission, forfeiture of privileges, separate confinement and deprivation of earnings.
* Anti-gambling information: Anti-gambling posters were produced to disseminate information on the harm caused by gambling and to provide information on related support services. In addition, Stanley Prison and Pak Sha Wan Correctional Institution were designated as pilot institutions where newly admitted persons in custody are shown a video named "Lose and Win" produced by Radio Television Hong Kong on the dangers of gambling.
* Psychological counselling services: The Psychological Services Section took the initiative to interview 470 persons in custody from March to mid-July in order to understand their adaptation to the institutional environment and to find out if they had any psychological problems related to gambling. Further psychological services were provided to 20 persons in custody by the department's clinical psychologists.
* Counselling services: Publicity was carried out to spread information on the harm caused by gambling, and persons in custody were encouraged to quit gambling. Programmes to stop gambling were organised. In order to identify high-risk cases, persons in custody were also asked to fill in questionnaires.
In addition, a pilot scheme entitled Gambling Counselling Group and co-organised by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Even Centre was launched in Stanley Prison with the objectives of guiding participants to raise their awareness of problem gambling, enhancing their knowledge and abilities in resolving their personal problems, and instilling the correct concepts regarding gambling. The pilot scheme also teaches participants not to be misled, to resist the temptation of gambling and to rebuild lives, and to minimise the risk of becoming problem gamblers. The group also features four treatment groups and two individual interviews to pinpoint problem gambling and discuss personal finance.
The topics of the Gambling Counselling Group range from better financial management and emotional management to understanding gambling desires. The first group consisting of 12 participants finished its sessions on June 4 and the next group, consisting of 10 people, commenced on July 22. The total number of participants was 22.
Mr Tse advised relatives of persons in custody to contact the CSD if they find out that a person in custody is participating in gambling activities in an institution. Appropriate follow-up actions can then be taken by the CSD. Information on community support services related to gambling is also provided to help rehabilitated offenders seek counselling services and turn over a new leaf in the community after release.
Ends/Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:31
Senior Superintendent (Quality Assurance) of the Correctional Services Department (CSD) Mr Tse Ho-yin (centre), Chief Officer (Inspectorate and Security) Mr Wat Pak-hang (left) and clinical psychologist Ms Lee Kit-shan (right) speak on the effectiveness of the CSD's anti-gambling and enhanced publicity measures during World Cup 2014 today (August 5).
To help persons in custody to quit gambling, the CSD's second gambling cessation class has commenced at Stanley Prison.
Principal Officer (Security) Mr Liu Wing-lok shows homemade gambling equipment seized during the operations.