Following is the translation of the full text of the speech by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose SK Lee, at the Correctional Services Department Passing-out Parade today (March 18):
Commissioner, honourable guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here today to review the passing-out parade of the Correctional Services Department. Let me first extend my sincere congratulations to all graduates on your success, after completing 23 weeks of demanding training, in officially joining an excellent brigade - the Correctional Services Department.
Correctional work is an integral part of the criminal justice system in Hong Kong. CSD colleagues not only provide highly effective custodial services for inmates without prejudicing their rights and dignity, but also ensure that a wholehearted service based on the "We Care" spirit is given to rehabilitated offenders. As a new member of the CSD, each graduate is therefore going on a very important mission.
In recent years, the department has established partnerships with various sectors of the community to help rehabilitated offenders reintegrate into society. Various publicity and educational activities are organised with community partners, calling on the public to take part in the rehabilitation work for prisoners and to accept rehabilitated offenders. As a result, the overall recidivism rate for inmates has been reduced to a record low in recent years, which is very encouraging. Moreover, CSD is well aware that crime prevention should start with educating the young, so the department has spared no effort in holding or participating in a number of activities to provide training in team building, discipline and physical exercise for young people.
On the external front, the department continues to fulfil the obligations of the Memoranda of Understanding signed with the Correctional Services of Canada and the Singapore Prison Service in the implementation of cooperation and exchange programmes. Moreover, close contact with the prison authorities of Macau and the correctional authorities in different provinces and cities of the Mainland has been effectively maintained. In 2003, the department reached an agreement with the Bureau of Prison Administration, Guangdong Province to organise annually and host alternately the "Guangdong - Hong Kong Prison Forum".
In recent years, the department has faced significant challenges in the allocation of manpower, facilities and other resources. In view of this, the Government has implemented a number of projects aimed at providing additional penal places to alleviate overcrowding in prisons. Other prison development projects will also be explored. The Government has also given approval for CSD to recruit 45 staff this year to fill vacancies. In the meantime, in the face of fiscal restraint, the department has taken corresponding measures, including the change of its internal culture, suitable cultivation of talent and sound allocation of resources, to ensure that all custodial and rehabilitation services are rendered efficiently.
After your passing-out today, we will all look to you to perform custodial and rehabilitation duties in different positions by putting the "We Care" spirit into practice. Your strict discipline and outstanding performance in the parade today are indicative of your firm determination to start a meaningful career. I trust that you will work together to contribute to the stability and peace of Hong Kong, with the professionalism that has made the CSD such a respected and distinguished team.
I wish you all every success in the future and congratulations once again!
Ends/Friday, March 18, 2005