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Victoria Prison Decommissioning Open Day (with photos)

    Victoria Prison, in use since 1841, was Hong Kong's first prison. It had all along been the centre of the local prison system in the old days and it was also a testimony to the evolution of Hong Kong's correctional services until last December when it ceased operation, the Commissioner of Correctional Services, Mr Pang Sung-yuen, said today (March 2).

     Speaking at a press conference to announce charity events to mark the prison's closure, Mr Pang said that before the establishment of Stanley Prison in 1937, Victoria Prison was the centre of justice and law enforcement of the colony in the early days.

     To mark the prison's decommissioning, the Correctional Services Department and The Community Chest of Hong Kong will jointly organise "Victoria Prison Decommissioning Open Days" at the prison between March 11 and 19.  

     The charity function will include a series of events, which are Open Days on March 11, 18 and 19; performances and a farewell parade on March 12 and the "Jail House Rock" on March 17 and 18.

     During the Open Days, in which admission will be by means of $20 per head donation to the Chest, cells will be opened for touring from 10am to 5pm. Items from the Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum, department vehicles and Correctional Services Industries' products will be displayed.

     Department staff volunteers dressed in old staff uniforms will help provide a glimpse of the changes in attire over the years, when the former Prisons Department was renamed the Correctional Services Department in 1982.

     There will also be a display of some artifacts such as a model for the execution chamber since execution was the regular sentence for such offences as murder, kidnapping leading to death and piracy until April, 1993, when capital punishment was formally abolished.

     "In 1990, the Corporal Punishment Ordinance was repealed. Visitors will see records of corporal punishment as ordered by judges from 1946 to 1977."

     A piece of the equipment for administering corporal punishment, called the "Cat-of-nine tails" (a whip), will also be on display.

     "Among the documents on display will be a night journal of the Prison whose data had survived World War II unscathed."

     The entry on the front side of paper covered December 14, 1941; but the entry on the back side of paper covered June 26, 1946, after the war, representing a void of four-and-a-half years.  

     "From the document you can see Victoria Prison was recommissioned in mid-1946 after the war. All in all, the night journal is not to be missed for its rich historic value," Mr Pang said.

     Mr Pang said he hoped the event would help stimulate a keener interest in the prison, which would in turn help towards a very worthwhile cause of the Community Chest in its fund-raising, and of the department in its offenders' rehabilitation work for building a stable community together.

     Mr Pang will accompany the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S.K. Lee to officiate at a farewell parade by the department on March 12. Programmes for the day from 3.30pm to 6pm also include band performance by the department and a reception for guests.

Ends/Thursday, March 2, 2006
Issued at HKT 15:46


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