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LCQ9: Rehabilitation programmes for persons in custody and recidivism rate

     Following is a question by the Hon Regina Ip and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, in the Legislative Council today (April 27):

Question:

     Some members of the public have pointed out that the rehabilitative services in Hong Kong have all along been comprehensive, which are effective in rehabilitating discharged prisoners and reducing the likelihood of their committing crimes again (recidivism), thereby making our community safer and helping reduce the workload of the Correctional Services Department (CSD) and related public expenditure. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the data on Hong Kong's recidivism rates in the past decade and their trend;

(2) whether it knows how Hong Kong's recidivism rates compare with those in advanced neighbouring countries;

(3) of the measures currently adopted by the authorities to reduce recidivism rates; and

(4) whether the authorities will make public the statistics on recidivism rates so that academic institutions may make use of them in conducting long-term tracking studies; if they will not, of the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

(1) Recidivism rate is defined as the percentage of re-admission of local persons in custody (PICs) to correctional institutions following conviction of a new offence within two years after discharge. Over the past decade, the recidivism rate in Hong Kong has decreased from 36.5 per cent based on 2004 as the year of discharge to 27.1 per cent based on 2013 as the year of discharge. Details are as follows:

 

Year of Discharge
-----------------
Recidivism Rate
---------------
2004 36.5 per cent
2005 35.6 per cent
2006 36.9 per cent
2007 34.4 per cent
2008 34.3 per cent
2009 33.0 per cent
2010 31.0 per cent
2011 29.2 per cent
2012 29.0 per cent
2013 27.1 per cent

(2) To protect public safety and reduce crime, Correctional Services Department (CSD) is committed to providing safe custody and appropriate rehabilitation programmes to help prevent PICs from re-offending after release. CSD has also worked in partnership with various stakeholders to promote the message of supporting offender rehabilitation and to strengthen community education for crime prevention purposes. However, whether PICs will re-offend is affected by various factors such as personal, family, peer, social and economic factors.

     The definition and calculation methodology of the recidivism rate in different places are fundamentally different. According to information available to CSD, the recidivism rate in Singapore was 25.9 per cent based on 2013 as the year of discharge, and that in Victoria of Australia was 44.1 per cent based on 2012-13 as the year of discharge. As the recidivism rate is affected by various factors, it is not appropriate to compare directly across different places.

(3) CSD engages PICs in meaningful work to assist them to develop good working habits and lead a life with an organised schedule for work and rest. In order to help PICs re-integrate into society after release, CSD, on the basis of provision of safe custody, arranges appropriate rehabilitation programmes which include:

(i) arranging appropriate counselling programmes for PICs with respect to their recidivism risks and rehabilitation needs under the Risks and Needs Assessment and Management Protocol for Offenders;

(ii) arranging counselling by clinical psychologists to improve PICs' general mental health and adjustment to institutions as well as to help them change their offending behaviours;

(iii) providing vocational training and education for PICs;

(iv) providing pre-release preparation services to address their personal needs;

(v) providing information on social welfare services and community facilities as well as briefings on job seeking, interview skills and labour legislation through the "Pre-release Re-integration Orientation Course";

(vi) assisting rehabilitated persons in seeking employment through the "Caring Employers" network under the Pre-release Employment Service and collaboration with various organisations and associations;

(vii) referring rehabilitated persons with welfare or rehabilitation needs to appropriate government departments or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for post-release follow-ups to facilitate re-integration into society;

(viii) implementing the statutory supervision programmes for rehabilitated persons who are subject to statutory supervision after release and making regular visits to the supervisees' homes or places of work to facilitate re-integration into society;

(ix) providing advice on rehabilitation programmes and strategies on re-integration and publicity through the Committee on Community Support for Rehabilitated Offenders, comprising community leaders, employers, members of the education sector, professionals and representatives of NGOs and government departments;

(x) organising publicity and public education activities to appeal for public acceptance of and community support for rehabilitated persons. One of the key initiatives is the Rehabilitation Pioneer Project, which is a community education programme disseminating the messages of "leading a law abiding and drug-free life as well as supporting offender rehabilitation" to secondary school students and young people. In addition, rehabilitated persons have been invited to various community education activities to share experience so as to strengthen their determination to reform; and

(xi) working in partnership with more than 80 NGOs to bring about positive change to the values of life of PICs and rehabilitated persons, etc.

(4) CSD has from time to time briefed academic institutions and organisations and members of the community interested in rehabilitation work, on the relevant statistics.

Ends/Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:43