Following is the speech by the Commissioner of Correctional Services, Mr Sin Yat-kin, at the department's 2011 year-end review today (January 18):
Welcome to the Correctional Services Department's (CSD) Annual Press Conference. The Year of the Dragon is about to start. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a successful and prosperous Lunar New Year.
Over the past year, with the concerted efforts of the CSD colleagues, we were able to take forward our custodial duties and rehabilitation work efficiently through the enhancement of service efficiency and the redeployment of resources.
Occupancy Rate and Development of Correctional Facilities
In 2011, the average daily penal population was 9 658 and the occupancy rate stood at 87 per cent, which was four percentage points lower than that of 2010 with its average daily penal population of 10 073. However, the overcrowding problem still existed in reception centres. To alleviate the overcrowding situation, a series of measures were taken during the year. For example, newly convicted adult females with the relevant security grading were sent directly from court to Lo Wu Correctional Institution instead of sending them to the reception centre again for streaming arrangement, and some remands of Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre were transferred to Stanley Prison. Despite these measures, the average annual overcrowding rates of Tai Lam Centre for Women and Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre were 36 per cent and 12 per cent respectively. We are now undertaking the project of merging Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre (LCKRC) with the adjacent Lai Chi Kok Correctional Institution. Upon completion of the project, the overcrowding situation in LCKRC will be alleviated.
Although the overcrowding problem in most penal institutions has been relieved, many correctional institutions were not purpose-built and their facilities have become aged. Of the existing 29 correctional facilities, six were converted from buildings previously used for other purposes; ten of them have been in operation for 40 years or above and the number will increase to 13 by 2017. As such, vigorous efforts are being made to undertake improvement works. A two-storey complex was completed in Stanley Prison in July 2011 to provide additional rehabilitative facilities for persons in custody. Besides, we are planning to pursue the partial redevelopment of Tai Lam Centre for Women. Subject to the funding approval of the Legislative Council, the redevelopment works will commence in August this year. Upon its completion in 2016, an additional 108 penal places will be provided and several facilities will be enhanced.
Acts of Violence and Indiscipline in Prisons
The CSD seeks to manage persons in custody in a secure, safe and humane manner. We look after a daily average of some 10 000 persons in custody and most of them are obedient and are determined to rehabilitate. However, some bad elements tend to get involved in misconduct and even violate the regulations repeatedly, thus affecting prison discipline and the safety of others. We adopt a zero tolerance policy towards these unruly elements.
In 2011, there were 3 645 disciplinary cases in the institutions and 2 443 persons in custody violating prison discipline were involved. Among them, 240 breached discipline three times or above while the number of inmates being disciplined for being involved in gambling-related activities was 186.
The number of seizures of dangerous drugs in correctional facilities was 125. Apart from a few cases in which dangerous drugs were searched from mail sent to prisons and articles brought in by visitors, the seizures were mainly in the reception centres. The types of dangerous drugs seized mainly included heroine and psychotropic drugs and there were 87 cases of internal body concealment of drugs.
In 2011, there were 499 cases of acts of violence in penal institutions, and most of them involved fighting among persons in custody and assaults. Apart from the 37 cases of a more serious nature that were reported to the Police, the remaining cases were handled through internal disciplinary proceedings. In 21 cases, correctional officers were assaulted during their course of duty.
In 2011, there was no case of successful escape. However, there was one case of attempted escape made by an inmate when he was on a medical appointment at an outside hospital, but he was instantly stopped by the escort staff.
Self-harm Behaviour of Persons in Custody
As with people in the community, some persons in custody have self-harm behaviour, including self-injurious behaviour or even suicide, for various reasons. In 2011, 95 persons in custody had self-harm behaviour, including 12 cases of hanging. All these cases were discovered in time and the inmates were rescued by correctional officers, thus there was no suicide case leading to death. The CSD will continue to take all feasible measures such as administrative arrangements, improvement of institution facilities, staff training, first aid services and enhanced efforts to detect inmates with propensity to self-harm in order to prevent them from harming themselves and to minimise the harm being done even if they actually commit such acts.
A disciplined and secure custodial environment is the cornerstone in the provision of rehabilitation services. We picked a new theme in 2011: "Give Rehabilitated Offenders A Chance". A new series of Announcement of Public Interest on radio and television and poster carrying this message were launched from mid-April. In order to provide persons in custody with equal employment opportunities, we organised for the first time a "Job Fair" in conjunction with non-government organisations in August 2011 to help soon to be released inmates secure a job before discharge so that they could enter the job market and reintegrate into the community as soon as they leave the institution.
As with other local adult persons in custody, those inmates who attended interviews in the "Job Fair" have opportunities to receive vocational training either provided by the CSD or jointly organised with outside training providers, and attain recognised qualification. In 2011, the first food and beverage training centre for male adult inmates was opened in Tong Fuk Correctional Institution to provide them with an integrated training programme, including vocational training, job interview skills, job referrals and follow-up.
To cater for the rehabilitative needs of those young inmates with lower educational attainment, we launched the "Teen's Programme" with the Vocational Training Council (VTC) early last year in Lai Chi Rehabilitation Centre and Chi Lan Rehabilitation Centre. Under the programme, participants have to complete 120 hours of generic skills training and 180 hours of vocational skills training. Upon completion of the programme, the inmates are eligible for enrolment in VTC's certificate courses offered to secondary three leavers. During 2011, 62 inmates of rehabilitation centres completed the training programme.
In 2011, the average daily female penal population was 1 838, representing 19 per cent of the total penal population. Since the criminogenic needs and rehabilitative needs of female persons in custody are different from that of their male counterparts, the CSD set up the first gender-specific personal growth and emotion treatment centre, "PSY GYM" , in Lo Wu Correctional Institution early last year to provide female inmates with systematic and professional psychological assessment and treatment.
Collaboration with Non-government Organisations and Penal Authorities in the Region
In 2011, the CSD continued to work closely with more than 80 non-government organisations to co-organise various rehabilitation activities for persons in custody and rehabilitated persons. Likewise, the CSD also maintained a close collaboration with penal authorities in other regions. For example, the Beijing-Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Prison Forum was held in Hong Kong in April 2011. With the theme of "The Synergy Effect of Community Involvement in Offender Rehabilitation and Risks and Needs Assessment and Management Protocol for Offenders", the Forum provided a platform for participants from different places to have in-depth discussion of correctional services and experience sharing.
Human Resource – Community Services and Recruitment Exercise
Fifty-five Officers and 269 Assistant Officers II joined CSD in 2011. It is anticipated that 45 Officers and 235 Assistant Officers II will be recruited to fill the vacancies in the 2012/13 financial year. In order to select candidates that meet the job requirements of the Department and to expedite recruitment, some changes have been made to the recruitment procedures, including the introduction of group interview sessions, and the abolition of the Chinese essay writing test for the Assistant Officer II recruitment.
Over the years, staff of the CSD and their families have actively engaged in community services in their spare time and participated in charity work through the Oi Kwan Volunteer Group Limited established by the staff. With the on-going charitable and volunteering efforts of staff members, the Department has been awarded the "Caring Organisation Logo" for the sixth consecutive year. In addition, the Oi Kwan Volunteer Group Limited was awarded "The Fourth Hong Kong Volunteer Award" by the Agency for Volunteer Service in recognition of its efforts in caring for the community.
The CSD went through a busy year in 2011. Undoubtedly, 2012 will be another year full of challenges. However, I have every confidence that all the colleagues of the CSD will continue to serve the community with dedication and commitment to contribute to a safer and more inclusive society.
Ends/Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:05