Following is the translation of the speech given by the Commissioner of Correctional Services, Mr Yau Chi-chiu, at the Passing-out cum Commissioner's Farewell Parade of the Correctional Services Department (CSD) today (August 18):
I am most honoured to be the Reviewing Officer of the Passing-out cum Farewell Parade of the CSD, and to celebrate with all of you on such a solemn and joyful occasion.
2017 is a year of commemoration. It marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the 35th anniversary of the renaming of the then Prisons Department to the CSD and the 80th anniversary of the establishment of Stanley Prison. Today is, of course, a memorable day to the 108 passing-out members as you turn a new page in your life. To me, it carries the distinctive meaning that I will pass on the baton to the new generation.
First of all, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the passing-out members as you will be our next generation to hold the fort. You have great aspirations and have rightly chosen a career which carries strategic purpose to Hong Kong. I am impressed by your magnificent march which demonstrates your confidence, dedication and vision as well as passion and vigour to serve our community. There is no doubt that, having completed the professional training in the Staff Training Institute, you are all ready for taking up the "Shared Mission, Unrivalled Challenges" of the CSD. I have to convey my appreciation to the instructors for training up our new team members. Moreover, I have to extend special thanks to your families and friends since their thoughtful nurturing and support are the driving forces of your success.
Law and order is the cornerstone of the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong. As the gatekeeper of the criminal justice system, the CSD is committed to protecting public safety and preventing crime and hence contributes to a safer and more inclusive society.
Looking back at the summer of 1980 when I received training at the Institute, the then Prisons Department was responsible for locking up offenders and thus preventing them from committing further crimes. In 1982, the renaming of the department as the CSD signified our dual emphasis on both safe custody and rehabilitation. After the establishment of the Rehabilitation Division and the closure of the last detention centre for Vietnamese immigrants in 1998, we were able to implement the two-pronged strategy in full swing.
To achieve outcomes on safe custody and rehabilitation, it is critical for us to ensure a secure, safe, humane, decent and healthy custodial environment. This creates the optimal conditions for the effective implementation of rehabilitation programmes. In addition, the adoption of proactive "nip-in-the-bud" and "zero-tolerance" strategies helps to curb the occurrence of illicit activities. As a result, no riot or disturbance has happened since 2000, and no successful escape has occurred since 2008.
On the rehabilitation front, the CSD offers, among others, assessment, counselling, education and more than 40 types of vocational training to facilitate the smooth reintegration of persons in custody into society upon release. At the same time, we have spared no effort in promoting public support for and acceptance of rehabilitated persons. Thanks to the concerted efforts of all stakeholders, the recidivism rate, based on the respective years of discharge, has remarkably decreased from 39.9 per cent in 2000 to the latest figure of 25.9 per cent in 2014.
We have recently stepped up promotion of community education and elevated the departmental mission from "crime reduction" to "crime prevention". Through different programmes under the Rehabilitation Pioneer Project, including "The Reflective Path", we partner with schools and related organisations to promote positive, law-abiding and inclusive values amongst young people. This new approach has received strong support from CSD colleagues. In February this year, we incorporated the change in our "Vision, Mission and Values" statement to reflect our commitment to addressing the needs of the community.
Late last year, the CSD commissioned the City University of Hong Kong to conduct a consultancy study to quantify in monetary terms the social cost arising from crime and calculate the costs saved through our work on rehabilitation and community education. The study was the first of its kind in Hong Kong, and its findings were announced at the Conference 2017 - Evolution of Corrections last month. It was highly encouraging to learn that the costs saved amounted to $74.3 billion in the past five years.
The department's initiative to reach out to the community further enhances the transparency of our systems and establishes a virtuous circle of promoting stakeholders' awareness as well as appreciation of and support for our work. In this connection, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all stakeholders, in particular those attending the Parade, for your encouragement and support which has motivated us to rise to the challenges.
For the passing-out members, I would like to share with you my view on building up organisational success from both individual and team perspectives. To achieve our job, we must have a professional team striving to discharge duties without fear or favour. After all, we also require our officers to uphold a high standard of personal integrity and team camaraderie. We affirm that all team members, irrespective of their rank and seniority, play equally important roles for service delivery. While you progress along the career path, you have to adopt an empathetic and pragmatic approach to connect with colleagues and stakeholders. Despite the heavy workload, you should still maintain work-life balance. You are also encouraged to pursue lifelong learning to attain personal growth on one hand, and to enrich organisational capabilities for service enhancement on the other.
Throughout my 37 years of service, I have witnessed the incessant efforts of generations of our colleagues. I could never forget their contributions to the paradigm shift of our role. I am deeply grateful for being blessed to work with many fine officers who remain extremely proud of serving the community despite all the ups and downs. They are highly commendable and deserve recognition for doing an exceptional job that sustains the development of a safer and more inclusive Hong Kong.
Looking ahead, our work will be more demanding amid the dynamic social circumstances and rising stakeholders' expectations. That said, I have every confidence in all passing-out members. With your unswerving steadfastness to serve as a team, we can rest assured that the department will be in good hands and you will deliver a great job like your predecessors.
I wish all ladies and gentlemen here good health and happiness. Last but not least, I wish that under our joint efforts, Hong Kong, the home we love, will have prosperity and success in the many decades to come. Thank you.
Ends/Friday, August 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:30