Following is the speech by the Commissioner of Correctional Services, Mr Sin Yat-kin, at the department's 2010 year-end review today (January 26):
Welcome to the Correctional Services Department's (CSD) Annual Press Conference, and thank you for your interest in our department. It has been four months since I and Mr Yau assumed the duty of Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner. We are glad to meet you here in Cape Collinson Correctional Institution to detail our developments and achievements in the past year.
Role of the CSD
As an integral part of the Hong Kong criminal justice system, the CSD is tasked with two important areas of work. They are detaining persons in custody in a secure, safe and humane manner; and providing them with suitable and comprehensive rehabilitative services.
Developments of Correctional Facilities
In order to alleviate overcrowding and allow for suitable custodial and rehabilitative environment, in mid-2010 the CSD completed the redevelopment of Lo Wu Correctional Institution. The design of the new institution originated from a new management model embracing the initiative of "Caring for People, Caring for Environment and Caring for the Community". The emphases are on people orientation, operational efficiency, economy of scale, resources management, greening concept, and community networking.
The greening concept incorporated in the design, since its commissioning in August last year, has won two prestigious environmental awards.
As inmates have moved into the new institution, we could start renovating the vacated facilities. For example, works started to convert old Lai Chi Kok Correctional Institution into an annex of Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre to ease the overcrowding there.
Meanwhile, in April last year the management of Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre (CIC) was reverted to the Immigration Department in smooth order, allowing us to reallocate our staff from there to the establishment of Lo Wu Correctional Institution. The CIC commenced its operation in 2005. Owing to the need of coordinating government internal resources and the then manpower situation, the Immigration Department and the CSD signed an agreement under which the CSD took charge of the management of the CIC for the first five years.
Voting Arrangement in Penal Institutions
Since the commencement of the Voting by Imprisoned Persons Ordinance in October 2009, we have made appropriate arrangements to enable electors under custody to vote in open elections in a bid to uphold the rights of persons in custody. In the by-election of the Legislative Council held in May 2010 and the recent Village Representative Election, smooth voting arrangements were made by the penal institutions for electors under custody. We are confident that smooth voting arrangements will also be made by the penal institutions for the upcoming large-scale District Council Election later this year.
We continue to strengthen the vocational training for adult offenders by introducing more vocational training elements in their daily work to facilitate the re-integration of rehabilitated offenders to society after discharge. Pre-release market-oriented full-time and part-time vocational training courses are also offered at several penal institutions for adult offenders so as to provide more offenders with vocational training and to enable them to attain external accreditation and recognised qualifications. In 2010, we provided 1,247 vocational training places, amounting to over 41% of the overall eligible adult offenders. Moreover, an Industries and Vocational Training Building was opened in Pik Uk Prison in January 2010 with improved facilities for industrial work and for vocational training. In order to enhance the employability of offenders upon discharge, we will continue to provide more vocational training venues and facilities in penal institutions.
In order to encourage the public and employers to give fair employment opportunities to rehabilitated persons and facilitate their smooth re-integration into society as law-abiding citizens, we held a symposium entitled "Fair Employment Opportunities for Rehabilitated Persons" in collaboration with the Centre for Criminology of the University of Hong Kong and the Merchants Support for Rehabilitated Offenders Committee Limited in June 2010. Over 200 employers and representatives from 80 companies, commercial and industrial associations and social enterprises attended the symposium. As at the end of 2010, about 230 employers offered some 860 job vacancies for rehabilitated persons under statutory supervision.
More than 80 religious groups and non-government organisations (NGOs) collaborate closely with the CSD in providing a wide range of services for persons in custody, including employment and educational support. In December 2010, we held a Forum in conjunction with the City University of Hong Kong. More than 200 participants, including representatives from the NGOs, academic and business sectors as well as correctional staff attended the Forum. The Forum provided a platform for us to share experiences in providing rehabilitative services and study the way forward. I am very pleased to see that more and more organisations are working with us in promoting offender rehabilitation. These works are instrumental in facilitating the reintegration of rehabilitated persons into the community.
Rehabilitation Pioneer Project
On the community education front, we organise the Rehabilitation Pioneer Project for young people to encourage them to accept and support rehabilitated offenders. It covers educational talks, visits to correctional institutions and the Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum. Besides, we have the Personal Encounter with Prisoners Scheme to provide young people with opportunities to meet persons in custody, while the Green Haven Scheme aims at promoting anti-drug messages and the importance of environmental protection among young people. Besides, the Options in Life Student Forum provides another interactive platform to enable rehabilitated offenders to address students about their regrets for committing crime, thereby enhancing their anti-crime awareness and promoting the message of rehabilitation. In March 2010, a youth forum was held at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium, attracting over 2,500 teachers and students.
Last year, we recruited 66 Officers and 232 Assistant Officers II and they have been posted to various institutions after the basic training. A new round of recruitment exercise has been conducted. It is anticipated that there will be about 70 Officer and 330 Assistant Officer II vacancies in the 2011/12 financial year.
We have all along been encouraging our staff to adopt and maintain a positive, healthy and balanced lifestyle. Recreational and sports activities and family fun days are arranged from time to time to promote the physical and psychological well-being of the staff and harmonious family relationship. While we welcome volunteers to provide services for persons in custody at various institutions, we have also encouraged our staff to contribute to society and provide assistance to the needy through charitable and volunteering efforts during their spare time. I am very pleased to see that the Department has been awarded the "Caring Organisation Logo" for the fifth consecutive year and the "Total Caring Award" by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service for its valuable contributions.
It is through the hard work and perseverance of our staff that this year's progress has been made possible. I particularly welcome the valuable help from volunteer individuals and organisations in our rehabilitative work, and encourage all Hong Kong citizens to participate in helping rehabilitated offenders for the benefit of our whole society.
Finally, I would like to wish you all a very happy new year, and I hope that 2011 brings you health, wealth and prosperity.
Thank you all for coming.
Ends/Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:28