Over the years Hong Kong has developed an internationally acclaimed correctional system, which places increasing emphasis on correction, rehabilitation of persons in custody, as well as community education. The Correctional Services Department (CSD) runs a comprehensive range of rehabilitation programmes targeting different types of persons in custody such as young offenders, drug dependants, first-time offenders and recidivists.
With an establishment of 7 254 staff, CSD manages 29 correctional facilities comprising correctional institutions, half-way houses and custodial wards of public hospitals. The correctional institutions include minimum, medium and maximum security prisons, detention centres for immigration detainees, a psychiatric centre and training, detention, rehabilitation and drug addiction treatment centres. Apart from 24 correctional institutions, there are three half-way houses and two custodial wards, which altogether accommodated about 7 800 persons as at end of 2022. CSD also provided statutory supervision with around 1 200 persons under active supervision at the end of 2022.
For the health of persons in custody, CSD actively supports the Government’s anti-smoking policy and promotes a no smoking culture among persons in custody through various anti-smoking measures including education, propaganda, counselling and smoking cessation courses. Pak Sha Wan Correctional Institution has been assigned as a “No Smoking Correctional Facility” to accommodate adult persons in custody who do not smoke. Besides, the Department has set up “no-smoking zones” in other institutions including Stanley Prison, Lo Wu Correctional Institution and Tung Tau Correctional Institution. To encourage and help persons in custody to quit smoking, the Department has cooperated with the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health for arranging persons in custody to participate in the “Quit to Win” Smoke-free Community Campaign organised by the Council, and the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health and School of Nursing.
To tie in with the Government’s policy to actively promote the development of “Smart City”, CSD is proactively developing “Smart Prison”. Since 2018, various technology projects, such as “Video Analytic Monitoring System”, “Contactless Vital Sign Monitoring System” and “Integrated Intelligent Communication System for Persons in Custody” etc., have been implemented in several correctional institutions under four major system categories for strategic development, namely “Security and Monitoring System”, “Operation and Management System”, “Person in Custody Self-management System” and “Staff Capacity Enhancement System”, with a view to enhancing management efficiency, the level of security of correctional institutions and the effectiveness of rehabilitation programmes. With reference to the experience gained from the trial runs of technology projects, CSD has made modifications, introduced new elements and conducted system integration so as to convert Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution into a first-generation smart prison which has started operation in mid-2021. In addition, an information technology project “Integrated Custodial and Rehabilitation Management System” has been developed to integrate the eight existing core operation systems with the introduction of innovation technology such as Staff Handheld Device, Persons in Custody Self-Service Kiosk, etc.
Adult Male Persons in Custody: CSD operates nine correctional institutions for adult male persons in custody. Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre accommodates persons awaiting trial and newly-convicted persons pending classification and allocation to other institutions.
Stanley Prison, the largest maximum-security institution, houses persons serving life or long-term sentences and persons awaiting trial. Another maximum-security institution, Shek Pik Prison, houses those serving medium to long-term sentences including life imprisonment.
Tong Fuk Correctional Institution, Hei Ling Chau Correctional Institution and Pak Sha Wan Correctional Institution are medium-security institutions for adult male persons in custody.
The three minimum-security institutions are Tung Tau Correctional Institution, Pik Uk Prison and Tai Lam Correctional Institution. Elderly persons in custody of low security risk, generally aged over 65, are housed at Tai Lam Correctional Institution. Furthermore, some persons awaiting trial have been assigned to Tung Tau Correctional Institution since mid-2021 to alleviate the overcrowding situation of Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre and Stanley Prison.
Young Male Persons in Custody: Pik Uk Correctional Institution, a maximum-security institution, houses remand and convicted young persons in custody.
Sha Tsui Correctional Institution, a minimum-security institution, operates as a detention centre and training centre. The detention centre programme emphasises strict discipline, hard work and counselling. Detention varies from one to six months for offenders aged between 14 and under 21, and three to 12 months for those aged between 21 and under 25. There is a 12-month supervision following release. Training centre detainees receive training periods from six months to three years. After release, they are subject to a three-year compulsory supervision. The young persons in custody have to participate in a programme with half-day education classes and half-day vocational training.
Lai Chi and Lai Hang Rehabilitation Centres house young male persons in custody for an aggregate period of three to nine months. The “Rehabilitation Centre Programme” focuses on reformation of young offenders, who are subject to one year’s supervision after release.
Adult Female Persons in Custody: There are two correctional institutions for adult female persons in custody. Tai Lam Centre for Women is a maximum-security institution functioning as a remand centre and a prison for adult women. Lo Wu Correctional Institution is the newest institution for housing remand and convicted adult female persons in custody, with one minimum-security wing and two medium-security wings.
Young Female Persons in Custody: Lai King Correctional Institution, a minimum-security institution, operates as a reception centre, training centre, drug addiction treatment centre and prison for young female persons in custody aged between 14 and under 21. Chi Lan and Wai Lan Rehabilitation Centres accommodate young female persons in custody under the “Rehabilitation Centre Programme”.
Adult Detainees: Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution and Nei Kwu Correctional Institution are minimum-security institutions used for detaining adult male detainees and adult female detainees respectively under the provisions of the Immigration Ordinance.
Drug Addiction Treatment: CSD runs a compulsory treatment programme for convicted drug addicts. It provides the courts with an alternative to imprisonment. Hei Ling Chau Addiction Treatment Centre accommodates adult male drug abusers while Lai Sun Correctional Institution accommodates both adult and young male drug abusers. Adult and young female drug abusers are accommodated at Lo Wu Correctional Institution and Lai King Correctional Institution respectively. Inmates have to undergo the treatment programme for two to 12 months, which is based on discipline and open-air physical activities including work programmes and therapy, and is supported by one-year post release statutory supervision.
Psychiatric Assessment and Treatment: Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre provides psychiatric treatment for the criminally insane, dangerous and violent persons in custody. Persons sentenced under the Mental Health Ordinance and those requiring psychiatric assessment or treatment are accommodated in the Psychiatric Centre. Visiting psychiatrists of the Hospital Authority also provide psychiatric assessments for the courts. Males and females are located at separate sections therein.
Medical and Health Care in Institutions: All institutions have on-premises hospitals and are staffed by qualified healthcare personnel. In collaboration with the Medical Officers from the Department of Health, round-the-clock basic health care services are provided in all institutions. Persons in custody who need further treatment and investigations are referred to visiting medical specialists or public hospitals for follow up.
Industries and Vocational Training: CSD keeps convicted adult persons in custody and remand persons in custody who opt to work gainfully occupied, enabling them to maintain an orderly and regular schedule for work and rest with a view to maintaining prison stability. In the pursuit of rehabilitation for offenders, the Industries and Vocational Training Section helps persons in custody reintegrate into society through acquisition of skills in industrial work and enhance their employability by providing diversified vocational training.
In 2022, a daily average of 3 475 persons in custody were engaged in industrial work to provide various government departments and the public sector with goods and services covering 13 trades in a cost effective manner. Examples are office furniture, staff uniforms, hospital linen, leather products, personal protective equipment, fiberglass products, traffic signs, metal railings, slabs and kerbs for infrastructure projects. Persons in custody also provide laundry services for the Hospital Authority, Department of Health and Fire Services Department. They laminate books for public libraries, undertake printing work and make file jackets and envelopes for government departments. The commercial value of these goods and services provided by CSD in 2022 was $447 million.
A series of market-oriented vocational training programmes with recognised accreditation are organised for both young persons in custody and eligible adult persons in custody as to enhance their employability and enable them to enrol in bridging or progressive courses after release.
CSD provides young persons in custody with 13 half-day vocational training courses, covering commercial practice, creative multimedia technology, coffee house operations, western pastry and dessert making, building services and beauty care, etc. Equal importance is placed on theoretical and practical aspects of the curriculum with a view to enhancing the employability of persons in custody and enabling them to enrol in relevant progressive courses in future.
CSD has been collaborating with various training bodies (including the Employees Retraining Board, the Construction Industry Council and the Vocational Training Council, etc.) to provide over 40 full-time / part-time vocational training courses for eligible adult persons in custody, offering over 1 400 training places each year. These courses cover construction, engineering, business, food and beverage, retail, beauty care, transport, logistics, laundry services, computer application and environmental services, etc. for persons in custody to enrol on a voluntary basis and obtain recognised qualifications. Moreover, CSD also helps them obtain qualification through applying the Recognition of Prior Learning Scheme under the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework.
Statutory Supervision: To ensure continuous care and guidance, statutory supervision is provided for young persons in custody; persons released from training, detention, rehabilitation and drug addiction treatment centres; and those released under various schemes such as the Release Under Supervision Scheme (RUSS), Pre-release Employment Scheme (PRES), Post-release Supervision of Prisoners Scheme (PRSS), Conditional Release Scheme (CRS) and Supervision After Release Scheme (SARS). Regular contacts are maintained with every rehabilitated person. Close supervision continues after discharge through frequent visits to supervisees’ home or place of work throughout the supervision period.
CSD runs three half-way houses – Phoenix House in Lung Yan Road for young supervisees released from detention, training and drug addiction treatment centres; Pelican House which is annexed to Phoenix House for persons in custody released under the RUSS, PRES and CRS as well as adults from drug addiction treatment centres and supervisees released under the PRSS with accommodation needs; and Bauhinia House in Tai Lam Chung for female persons released under the RUSS, PRES and CRS and female supervisees released from training and drug addiction treatment centres.
Success rates mean the percentage of supervisees who complete the statutory supervision without reconviction. For supervisees from drug addiction treatment centre, they must also remain drug free. In 2022, the success rates were: detention centre (96 per cent), training centres (81 per cent), drug addiction treatment centres (54 per cent), rehabilitation centres (98 per cent), young persons in custody under Prison Programme (97 per cent), RUSS (100 per cent), PRES (100 per cent), SARS (100 per cent), CRS (100 per cent) and PRSS (97 per cent). Altogether, 832 males and 145 females completed statutory supervision in 2022 whereas 1 038 males and 155 females were under active supervision as at end of 2022.
Welfare and Counselling Services: CSD looks after the welfare of persons in custody by providing assistance and guidance to help them solve their personal problems and cope with difficulties arising from detention. CSD also organises programmes such as Sentence Planning Scheme to encourage persons in custody serving long-term sentences to rehabilitate, and the Pre-release Re-integration Orientation Courses to prepare them for release.
To further improve rehabilitation porgrammes for persons in custody through community involvement, CSD officers work closely with rehabilitation synergistic partners to provide rehabilitation programmes. Around 100 NGOs / charity organisations / synergistic partners / community stakeholders run cultural, religious and recreational projects, provide counselling and services to address the rehabilitation needs of persons in custody.
Multi-purpose Family and Rehabilitation Service Centres: The five Multi-purpose Family and Rehabilitation Service Centres of CSD located in Mong Kok, Shau Kei Wan, Sheung Shui, Tuen Mun and Sha Tin aim to provide psychological and counselling services for rehabilitated offenders and their families, as well as a video social visit service for relatives and friends of persons in custody so as to strengthen the connection between persons in custody and their relatives and friends. Visitors who are unable to visit correctional institutions due to old age, pregnancy, disabilities or other special reasons can make an appointment for a video visit.
Project PATH: In recent years, a number of radical persons involved in serious offences have been admitted to correctional institutions. In order to deepen their understanding of Chinese history and culture, and enhance their sense of national identity, CSD has launched the Project PATH having regard to the rehabilitation needs of these persons in custody. Based on the three major rehabilitation directions, namely “understanding Chinese history and strengthening national education”, “psychological reconstruction and re-establishment of values”, and “life planning and rebuilding of family relationships”, the Project PATH aims to assist persons in custody who have committed crimes due to radical thoughts to rebuild positive values and face positively the challenges ahead.
Project JET: The Project JET was launched at the end of October 2022 by CSD to provide “one-stop” training and career development opportunities for persons in custody, with a view to encouraging them to make life planning early, so that they can contribute to society by utilising their talents. Activities under the project include: (1) life planning – to provide talks and workshops on life planning for persons in custody in correctional institutions; (2) in-centre training - to provide relevant professional training for persons in custody; (3) post-release internship - to provide post-release internship opportunities in Hong Kong or in the Greater Bay Area for persons in custody who have completed relevant training; (4) official employment – to offer full-time employment to rehabilitated persons with good performance during the internship; and (5) mentoring scheme – to match rehabilitated persons with appropriate mentors as life mentors to teach them work skills and provide life education during their internship and official employment.
Psychological Services: Psychological programmes are provided for persons in custody to improve their psychological well-being and help change their offending behaviour. Psychological assessments are provided for the courts, review boards and institution management to facilitate their decision making and management of persons in custody. Therapeutic programmes for persons in custody include Offending Behaviour Programme for young persons in custody which targets criminogenic factors related to offending, the Drug Abuse Rehabilitation Programme for drug abusers in drug addiction treatment centres and the Violence Prevention Programme and systematic treatment programmes in the Evaluation and Treatment Unit respectively for adult persons in custody with violent offending behaviours and sex offending behaviours, which aim at changing their offending behaviour.
To address the special treatment needs of drug abusers, CSD has set up the Mindfulness Corner in Lo Wu Correctional Institution and the Mindfulness Place in Hei Ling Chau Addiction Treatment Centre for the provision of Mindfulness-Incorporated Drug Abuse Rehabilitation Programme to handle drug craving problems. Besides, CSD has set up the Personal Growth and Emotion Treatment Centre for Women - the PSY GYM for adult female persons in custody to provide gender specific and systematic psychological treatment programmes and to help them develop a constructive lifestyle. In addition, CSD has set up a positive living centre for men - the Life Gym to provide male-responsive psychological treatment programmes. The programmes incorporate innovative treatment elements including Virtual Reality Psychological Assessment and Treatment Tool, and therapeutic sports and electronic games to help participants desist from crime and cultivate positive living.
In 2021, the groundbreaking digitalised psychological programme Psyber Space for adult persons in custody was launched. This interesting and interactive psychological programme delivered in tablet computers promotes the psychological well-being of the participants. The family-based psychological treatment was introduced to Tong Fuk Correctional Institution in the same year. Through diversified therapeutic activities, this programme helps participants rebuild positive family relationship and outlook on life which facilitates their positive reintegration into the community. To encourage family members’ participation in the rehabilitation of young persons in custody, an enhanced Inmate-Parent Programme – “Heart Start” was introduced to further address the latest needs of young offenders in nowadays families.
CSD set up the specialised treatment unit “Youth Lab” in Pik Uk Correctional Institution in July 2022 offering psychological treatment programmes to help young offenders cultivate pro-social orientation and psychological resilience. In December 2022, CSD launched the “Change Lab” in the community to facilitate young offenders under supervision to rebuild a law-abiding life and empower their families to provide support for their rehabilitation through family intervention and mindfulness parenting workshop.
To further strengthen psychological services for adult supervisees, CSD set up the “ReConnect Hub” in its multi-purpose family and rehabilitation service centre in Sha Tin in March 2023. In the “ReConnect Hub”, clinical psychologists provide diverse psychological programmes and family-based psychological services to help rehabilitated offenders lead a positive life, regain self-confidence, rebuild a harmonious family relationship and reintegrate into society with a positive attitude.
To address mental health needs of staff, CSD provides clinical psychology service to staff members who need psychological intervention at times of emotional crises. Staff training has been regularly arranged to promote mental-health awareness, enhance stress management and cultivate a culture of healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Education: Half-day education classes are provided for young persons in custody. The programmes enable them to improve their academic standards. Adult persons in custody are also encouraged to participate voluntarily in self-study courses or distance learning for tertiary education. CSD actively provides assistance to persons in custody for their studies and they are also encouraged to take part in local and international accredited public examinations to attain accreditations and qualifications which are conducive to their smooth reintegration into the society.
Religious Services: A full-time Chaplain co-ordinates the planning and provision of religious services. He is assisted by a number of volunteer Chaplains who visit and conduct services for persons in custody. Many volunteers of other religions and rehabilitation synergistic partners also provide a wide range of spiritual and social services in institutions.
Community Engagement: CSD reaches out to the community to seek public’s engagement for offender rehabilitation. Among other partners, the Committee on Community Support for Rehabilitated Offenders, composed of leaders and professionals from different walks of life, advises on rehabilitation strategies, notably publicity programmes.
Ongoing activities promoting offender rehabilitation have been organised to establish a bridge between persons in custody and the society. Through activities such as District-based Publicity Activities on Offender Rehabilitation of District Fight Crime Committees, Thank-you NGO Month, NGO Forum and Award Presentation Ceremony for Volunteers of CSD Rehabilitation Volunteer Group (CSDRVG), members of the public can better understand the importance of community acceptance and participation to persons in custody. In particular, CSDRVG organises activities in meeting the rehabilitation needs of persons in custody. With more than 100 active volunteers, the Group conducted language courses, computer studies, cultural pursuits, etc., in various correctional institutions for the voluntary participation of persons in custody according to their own needs.
Rehabilitation Pioneer Project (RPP): The RPP includes a series of community education activities such as Education Talks, Personal Encounter with Prisoners Scheme, Green Haven Scheme, Visits to Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum, Extended Training Camp, Student Forum, Drama and Music Performance of “Creation and Rehabilitation”, the Reflective Path, Summer Camp, Mission in Prison, Rehabilitation Express and the setting up of a uniformed group Rehabilitation Pioneer Leaders (RPLs) to disseminate to the public the messages of safeguarding our country and home, leading a law-abiding and drug-free life as well as supporting offender rehabilitation.
The Education Talks provide basic information on Hong Kong’s criminal justice system and CSD’s custodial and rehabilitative programmes. The Personal Encounter with Prisoners Scheme instils anti-crime awareness by arranging young students to visit correctional institutions and meet with persons in custody for experience sharing. The Green Haven Scheme promotes anti-drug messages and the importance of environmental protection among young people. Participants meet with young persons in custody at treatment centres on Hei Ling Chau, gaining insight into the detrimental effects of drug abuse. Visits to Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum foster participants’ understanding of the correctional services over the past 100 years. The Student Forum stimulates students’ introspection and participation through an interactive platform and a sharing session by a rehabilitated person. The Extended Training Camp, which lasts for three days and two nights, features a series of discipline training activities aiming at enhancing participants’ confidence and developing their positive values. The Drama and Music Performance of “Creation and Rehabilitation” enables students to enjoy drama and music performances presented by persons in custody to convey messages of the importance of obeying the law. The Reflective Path aims at enhancing students’ understanding of the criminal judicial system and correctional services, as well as the heavy cost for committing crimes through the simulation of imprisonment.
In addition, different competitions targeting the youth are organised by CSD every year to disseminate the messages of safeguarding our country and home, leading a law-abiding and drug-free life as well as supporting offender rehabilitation. Prize winners of the competitions will be arranged to join a Mainland tour. Participants will attend adventure-based training and visits to schools and families in rural areas, an eco-friendly factory of a global enterprise as well as large-scale infrastructure, so as to provide them with an all-round learning experience conducive to their whole-person development. The “Mission in Prison” activity incorporates the concept of smart prison to turn a real prison into a unique “classroom”. Participants of the activity will become correctional officers to carry out various tasks, thereby deepening their understanding of the duties of CSD staff, and enabling them to observe from another perspective the custodial environment and life in prisons, with a view to enhancing their awareness of the dire consequences of committing crimes. RPLs is a youth uniformed group established in July 2018. Youngsters with leadership potential are recruited, brought together and offered diversified training with a view to broadening their horizon, developing their potential and discipline as well as strengthening a sense of social responsibility. More than 290 secondary school student members have been recruited. The Rehabilitation Express (RehEx), launched in 2022, is a brand-new community education activity of CSD tailor-made for primary school students. CSD arranges a promotion vehicle to visit primary schools in various districts across the territory to enhance the promotion of national security, national education, crime prevention, as well as anti-drug and support for rehabilitation messages to primary school students through electronic games and dodgebee, a newly emerged sport.
Visiting Justices: Two visiting Justices of the Peace visit each penal institution fortnightly or monthly, depending on the type of facility. The Justices of the Peace carry out relevant statutory duties such as investigating complaints made to them by persons in custody, inspecting diets and examining buildings and accommodation facilities. Visits are made at times and on days of their own choice within a prescribed period without prior notice.
Staff Training: The Hong Kong Correctional Services Academy (HKCSA) is responsible for planning and implementing training programmes to equip staff with relevant knowledge to fulfil the Vision, Mission and Values of the Department.
HKCSA organises a wide range of training programmes, including the Basic Law, the National Security Law and National Studies Courses for newly-recruited Officers and Assistant Officers II who have to undergo 26-week and 23-week recruit training respectively. Through Interactive Classrooms, Virtual Reality System and Scenario Training Facilities, recruit trainees acquire knowledge on laws of Hong Kong, operational knowledge of CSD, criminology, psychology, Chinese-style foot drills, tactical skills, etc. It also arranges field placement for recruit trainees at different correctional institutions and foundation training courses organised by the Civil Service College for new recruits. Professional development training courses such as refresher courses, job-related training courses, professional management training and command training courses are regularly conducted at HKCSA to help foster trainees’ individual work capability and their career development. HKCSA maintains frequent collaboration with external training partners, including local, Mainland and overseas tertiary institutions and training organisations. Among such collaborations, HKCSA collaborates with local tertiary institutions to organise Hong Kong Qualifications Framework (HKQF) Level 6 courses namely “Postgraduate Certificate in Correctional Governance and Leadership” which is the first of its kind in Asia related to correctional management and “Postgraduate Certificate in Training Management and Development” (both pitched at the same QF Level as a local Master’s Degree). Furthermore, HKCSA appoints relevant professionals and members of the academia as Honorary Advisors.
To strengthen its professionalism in training, HKCSA has been accredited as a Level 5 Operator by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications to operate learning programmes meeting Qualification Framework (QF) standards at Level 5 or below. The programmes include “Professional Diploma in Correctional Management (Officer)” for newly recruited Officers which has been accredited as a Level 5 programme under the HKQF (pitching at the same QF Level as a local Bachelor’s Degree), and the “Professional Diploma in Correctional Services (Assistant Officer)” for newly recruited Assistant Officers II which has been accredited as a Level 4 programme under the HKQF (pitching at the same QF Level as a local Associate Degree or a Higher Diploma) are recognised by the individual tertiary institution for credit exemptions.
To further enhance the culture of continuing education and life-long learning of CSD, the Department has developed and established a Knowledge Management System (KMS), a one-stop online platform for learning, experience sharing and knowledge succession. In 2020, CSD has established a KMS mobile app to enable staff members to browse the departmental information with mobile phones and tablets in spare time. Between 2018 and 2022, CSD has won the Hong Kong Most Innovative Knowledge Enterprise (MIKE) Award and the Global MIKE Award for five consecutive years. The knowledge management and innovation of CSD are internationally acclaimed.
Caring for all: Apart from performing their daily duties, CSD staff is encouraged to extend their spirit of caring for community by participating in various charitable activities such as voluntary work for fund-raising activities.
In recognition of the Department’s continuing and total commitment in caring for the well-being of staff, their families and the community as a whole, CSD was awarded the “15 Years Plus Caring Organisation Logo” again in the year 2022/23 by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, having also been presented with the “Total Caring Award” in the year 2007/08.