Correctional services reviews work

February 23, 2023

The Correctional Services Department, in its annual review today, said the average daily number of remands hit a decade high in 2022.


At a press conference, the department said the average daily number of remands rose 15% from 2,316 in 2021 to 2,666 last year.


The annual number of new admissions, including detainees, remands and convicted people, dropped 13% to 13,246 in 2022.


The average daily penal population at correctional facilities in the year was 7,613, similar to the corresponding figure of 7,616 in 2021. The average daily occupancy rate remained at 67%.


The department noted that as the number of adult male remands has been on the rise, it plans to partially redevelop Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre to increase its capacity by 410 places to alleviate the overcrowding problem.


The project has been approved by the Town Planning Board and a funding proposal is expected to be submitted to the Legislative Council in mid-2023.


Last year, the number of admissions to correctional institutions owing to involvement in offences relating to the black-clad violence and contravention of the National Security Law stood high at 829. Compared to 985 people in 2021, the number of the admissions dropped by 156.


As at the end of last year, the number of those in custody involved in the black-clad violence or contravening the National Security Law was 522, an increase of 26% as compared with 415 people in 2021.


Following the first COVID-19 infection of a person in custody during the fifth wave of the epidemic in early February last year, the virus spread quickly in correctional institutions. At the epidemic's peak in early March, 55% of those in custody were put under isolation and 17% of correctional officers were unable to report for duty.


Having consulted the Centre for Health Protection, the department took measures including vacating Cape Collinson Correctional Institution, Sha Tsui Correctional Institution and Phoenix House, for use as temporary isolation facilities as well as setting up quarantine and isolation zones in correctional institutions to cope with the surging confirmed and close-contact cases.


On its rehabilitation work, the department said a large number of radical lawbreakers involved in violent acts have been remanded or convicted since the outbreak of the black-clad violence in 2019.

"Project PATH" was then introduced to help them disengage from radical thoughts and violent behaviours. Dedicated case managers carried out regular assessments and provided a follow-up service to offer appropriate matching rehabilitation programmes to those in custody.


As regards the department's application of innovation and technology, it highlighted that since the first-generation "Smart Prison" at Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution came into operation in mid-2021, it has continued to conduct trials in individual institutions to strengthen the self-management ability of people in custody.


Trial projects with the application of innotech introduced last year included the "Robotic Monitoring System 2.0" at Shek Pik Prison, "Persons in Custody e-Message Platform" at Stanley Prison and "Contactless Vital Sign Detection System" at Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre.


Funding was secured from LegCo's Finance Committee in early 2022 for the installation of the "Persons in Custody Integrated Intelligent Communication System" in correctional institutions. When the system is in full operation, the efficiency of institutional operations and management will be enhanced, while the link between those in custody and their friends and relatives will be strengthened, which is conducive to their rehabilitation.


Looking forward, the department will continue to introduce new initiatives in custodial work, rehabilitation and community education.


About 80 correctional officers are expected to be recruited this year, while the year-round recruitment for assistant officers will continue, it added.

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