LCQ16: Preventing young people from committing crimes
It is learnt that in the movement of opposition to the proposed legislative amendments which broke out in 2019, quite a number of young people were arrested and prosecuted for participating in unlawful activities. On preventing young people from committing crimes, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the number of cases involving the movement of opposition to the proposed legislative amendments, and the number of such cases which have been concluded; the number of convicted persons involved in the concluded cases and, among them, the number of those who are young people; the lowest and the highest penalties imposed on such young criminals;
(2) given that the Correctional Services Department has introduced a programme called "Understanding History is the Beginning of Knowledge" and a counselling service called "Youth Lab" to young people in custody to foster their sense of national identity and strengthen their law-abiding awareness, how the Government assesses young people in custody's assimilation of the programme contents and the improvement in their psychological state after receiving the counselling service;
(3) whether it will provide training in Chinese-style foot drill and flag raising for young people in custody so that they can learn to practice self-discipline and self-reflection, and to abide by the law; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(4) given that local terrorism sprouted amid the social turmoil that emerged in 2019, how the Government prevents persons in custody who have committed rioting offences but demonstrated no remorse from waiting for opportunities to incite young people to break the law and stir up trouble after they are released from imprisonment?
(1) Regarding the illegal acts relating to the black-clad violence, as at August 31, 2022, the Police had arrested 10 279 persons, of which 1 754 were aged under 18. Among the 2 893 persons being prosecuted, 517 were aged under 18.
Among the cases (involving 2 044 persons) which had completed the judicial proceedings, about 80 per cent of the persons involved (1 631 persons) had to bear legal consequences, including sentencing upon conviction, community service order, probation order and bind over orders made by courts, etc. Among the persons who had to bear legal consequences, 353 were aged under 18 at the time of arrest, with the sentences being imposed ranged from bind over orders made by courts to imprisonment for five years and six months.
(2) In recent years, quite a number of radical persons involved in serious offences have been admitted to correctional institutions. Having regard to the rehabilitation needs of relevant persons in custody (PICs), the Correctional Services Department (CSD) has launched the Project PATH. Based on three major rehabilitation directions, namely understanding Chinese history and national education, psychological reconstruction and re-establishment of values, and life planning and rebuilding of family relationships, the CSD strives to assist young PICs who have committed crimes due to radical thoughts to rebuild positive values and face positively the challenges ahead. The key rehabilitation programmes under the Project PATH are tabulated as follows:
|The Project PATH|
|Understanding Chinese history and national education||
|Psychological reconstruction and re-establishment of values||
|Life planning and rebuilding of family relationships||
The CSD will assign a dedicated case manager to conduct assessment on each of these PICs so as to identify their special rehabilitation needs. Each of those PICs will then be matched with appropriate rehabilitation programmes based on the three major rehabilitation directions as mentioned above, with targets set by stage so that the rehabilitation programmes could be implemented progressively. Case managers will regularly assess each case and review the progress of rehabilitation, and provide assistance to the PICs concerned and adjust the rehabilitation programmes as and when necessary.
(3) Currently, all young PICs are required to receive Chinese-style foot drill training. With the CSD's emphasis of rigorous discipline training, it is hoped that young PICs can be guided to understand the importance of self-discipline and law-abidingness. For example, for young PICs who have been directed to undergo training under the Detention Centres Ordinance (Cap. 239), the CSD will adopt a training model with the objectives of "Short, Sharp, Shock", under which young PICs are required to undergo rigorous discipline training and tough physical training, with a view to helping them understand the heavy price they have to pay for committing crimes and reflect on their own mistakes within a short period of time.
(4) The long-standing position of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government is to act in accordance with the law by following the principle that "laws are observed and strictly enforced, so as to bring offenders to account". In particular, acts and activities that endanger national security may have very serious consequences, and hence actions must be taken to prevent and suppress such acts and activities, to ensure that individuals endangering national security will face legal consequences. Should any person be suspected of engaging in illegal activities, including those inciting others to engage in acts and activities endangering national security, the law enforcement agencies will definitely pursue their legal liabilities, and will not allow them to remain at large.
In addition, to prevent the youth from being incited to engage in illegal activities, especially acts and activities endangering national security, it is very important to strengthen national security education and raise law-abiding and national security awareness of the youth. The Government has been raising the national security awareness of our youths in different areas, major initiatives of which include:
(i) implement national education (including national security education) in schools;
(ii) take forward national education in various sectors of the community: launching the online virtual exhibition of the National Security Law, organising the 2022 Let's Join Hands in Safeguarding National Security Programme by the Security Bureau and the Education Bureau, and producing Announcements in the Public Interest to highlight the effectiveness of the National Security Law, etc.;
(iii) activities of the National Security Education Day 2022: since 2021, the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR has been organising the annual National Security Education Day to raise Hong Kong residents' awareness on national security; and
(iv) youth groups of disciplined services departments: continue to take forward national security education for members of the youth uniformed groups of disciplined services departments, with a view to raising the national security awareness of the youth.
In the year ahead, the Government will continue to raise the national security awareness of the youth through various channels. Major initiatives include: to enhance the national security awareness of about 10 000 members of youth uniformed groups of disciplined services departments; continue to enhance the content of the National Security Law online virtual exhibition; and continue to take forward the 2023 Let's Join Hands in Safeguarding National Security Programme.
As for PICs who have been released, depending on factors such as the age of the relevant persons, the offences committed and the sentences imposed by the court, they will be provided with statutory supervision after release in accordance with the relevant legislation, so as to ensure that appropriate support and guidance are provided to help them lead a law-abiding life after release and facilitate their reintegration into the community. When PICs are serving their sentences in correctional institutions, supervising officers will start establishing good rapport with them and maintaining contact with their families to better prepare them for future return to society. Supervising officers will continue to provide close supervision to the PICs concerned after release through regular visits to the supervisees' homes or workplaces.
Besides, the CSD will set up a community-based psychological service centre, the Change Lab, by the end of this year to provide community-based psychological counselling for young PICs after release. The services aim to assist young people under a statutory supervision order to build confidence and psychological resilience for overcoming difficulties and resisting temptations, as well as strengthen the relationships between supervisees and their families, thereby breaking the cycle of crime and facilitating their reintegration into society.
Ends/Wednesday, October 26, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:20
Issued at HKT 15:20