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Speech by Commissioner of Correctional Services at the Passing-out cum Commissioner's Farewell Parade of the Correctional Services Department

     Following is the translation of the speech given by the Commissioner of Correctional Services, Mr Sin Yat-kin, at the Passing-out cum Commissioner's Farewell Parade of the Correctional Services Department (CSD) today (December 24):

     First of all, on behalf of the Correctional Services Department, I would like to warmly thank our distinguished guests for attending the Passing-out cum Commissioner's Farewell Parade of the Correctional Services Department today.

      I believe all of you know that I will retire from the post of Commissioner of Correctional Services and proceed on my pre-retirement leave this Friday. I am most honoured to be able to officiate at the passing-out parade for the CSD's new blood on my last working day before retirement, which makes this occasion exceptionally meaningful to me. It also marks a perfect conclusion for my career, as well as adding more bright moments and honour to my 35 years of service at the CSD.

     I am most impressed again to see the magnificent march of all the passing-out members, which demonstrates your high spirits, great vitality and confidence. It reminds me of my own passing-out parade years ago. Just like all of you, I was full of aspirations and passion to serve the community wholeheartedly. Over the past few months, you have all received stringent training under the thoughtful nurturing and guidance of the Training Officers at the Staff Training Institute. Now you have passed the examinations covering various aspects of your training and you are about to pursue your career in the correctional services. I believe that with your family members and friends as witnesses at the passing-out parade today, you will all fulfill the vision of correctional officers in helping to make the CSD an internationally acclaimed correctional service, as well as keeping Hong Kong as one of the safest cities in the world.

      To protect the public, we must enforce the punishment of imprisonment sentences imposed by the court and ensure that offenders, while they are serving their sentence, cannot escape from institutions and threaten social stability in the community. In addition, as the great majority of persons in custody, including those sentenced to life imprisonment, will eventually return to the community, encouraging and assisting them to turn over a new leaf and refrain from committing crime again will undoubtedly help Hong Kong to become a safer and more harmonious city. Consequently, our work has always placed dual emphasis on custodial and rehabilitation services.

     On custodial services, it is particularly important to provide persons in custody with an organised, fair and secure custodial environment with discipline, in which they can reflect on their wrong doings deeply. In recent years, we have actively introduced modern technical equipment, including low-radiation X-ray body scanners, the Human Presence Detection System and closed circuit television (CCTV) with a video analytical function. Also, we have extended the coverage of the CCTV system and adopted electric locks. All of these have greatly enhanced the effectiveness of our staff in preventing escape, smuggling of contraband and cases of violence among persons in custody.

     On rehabilitation services, the CSD has been working closely with some 80 non-government organisations to actively encourage persons in custody to start afresh, and help them prepare themselves for re-integration into society upon release. They are given opportunities to pursue studies and learn working skills. As knowledge can change one's fate, with the encouragement of correctional officers more and more persons in custody have enrolled in study courses in recent years. Many of them have achieved remarkable results and even attained bachelor's and master's degrees during their time in correctional institutions. Furthermore, we have arranged over 30 market-oriented vocational training courses, including those related to the construction industry which have serious labour shortage, for voluntary enrolment by persons in custody who will soon be released to enhance their working skills. The CSD has also organised for the first time a large-scale job fair in its correctional institutions, with the purpose of minimising any chance of discrimination faced by persons in custody in finding jobs and facilitating their quick re-integration into society upon release.

     Moreover, to encourage persons in custody to care for the community, we have launched the Waste No Food Scheme to help them avoid wastage and minimise leftovers. No-smoking correctional facilities and no-smoking zones have also been designated to help persons in custody to quit smoking for the improvement of their health and air quality. We have received a good response and encouraging results since the implementation of the schemes.

     Whether persons in custody can lead a successful rehabilitated life hinges not only on the endeavours of the CSD and persons in custody. Public acceptance of and support for rehabilitated offenders are also indispensable. However, the work of the CSD is very different from that of other government departments and even other disciplined forces. As most Hong Kong people have no chance to come into contact with our work, they are unfamiliar with our Department. Therefore, in recent years the CSD has taken the initiative to go into the community to introduce to the public the modern vision of correctional services through different platforms. We also urge all sectors of the community to give rehabilitated offenders a chance to start a new life. In fact, by assisting the rehabilitated offenders to start afresh and re-integrate smoothly into society, the public and the community as a whole will also reap the benefit of living in a safer and more harmonious city. I am delighted to report that the recidivism rate of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has recorded a steady decrease of about 30 per cent in the past decade. We dare not claim the credit for this encouraging accomplishment ourselves because our endeavours would be futile without public support for and acceptance of the rehabilitated offenders.

     After serving the Department for more than 35 years, I have mixed feelings about leaving my office. Like all passing-out members, I am very glad that I have chosen correctional services as my lifelong career because it has enabled me to realise my aspirations. Today, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all parties and persons supporting the work of the CSD, including charity organisations, voluntary agencies, community leaders, friends of the department and many more. Over the years, they have given unfailing support and encouragement to our rehabilitation work for persons in custody. Meanwhile, I would like to commend all my colleagues for their dedication in working closely with me all these years in performing our extraordinary mission. Despite all the difficulties, adversities and challenges we have faced, you have strived for the building of a harmonious and stable society wholeheartedly and without complaint. Regarding the passing-out members, as you confront today's ever more complicated and changing society, you must persevere in making self-advancement and continue upgrading your professional competence so as to succeed in your challenging work.

     Lastly, I sincerely wish all the passing-out members a very bright future and every success in your new posts. I also wish all the guests here happiness and good health in the days to come. Thank you very much.

Ends

Tuesday, Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:42

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