New prison guards must take ethics lessons

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 July, 2012, 12:00am


New prison officers are studying ethics as part of their training in the wake of the jailing of two officers for taking bribes.

The Correctional Services Department has introduced ethics courses at its staff training institute, which means new recruits will have to study the civil service code of ethics and integrity, and a new edition of the department's ethics handbook. The course will also involve discussion of real-life cases.

The courses were introduced in February in light of a case against Ng Shuk-yi, 36, and Lai Sau-wai, 47, who ran messages between a mainland inmate and her boyfriend, then asked for rewards. The two officers were jailed last month for 18 months and 21 months respectively.

'Our department did some work because of the problem [identified in the court case],' the institute's principal, Francis Tse Siu-fung, said. 'We launched ethics management training for newly recruited staff.

'They will look at how officers fell into traps in the past so that through real cases, they will learn to respect themselves and stay clean,' Tse said.

The training forms part of the 26-week course for officers and the 23-week training for new entrants at the assistant officer level. The courses also include counselling training, role-playing and self-defence skills. The department is looking for 235 assistant officers in its latest recruitment exercise, which starts today. Tse expects there will be around 10,000 applicants, similar to last year.

The department is keen to add to its 50 non-Chinese officers, and one officer of Pakistani origin said he hoped the removal of written exams in Chinese and English last year would help with recruitment.

'There are quite a number of South Asian inmates in Hong Kong. I have a communication advantage and can avoid misunderstandings,' principal assistant officer Fida Hussain said.

Hussain, who speaks six languages, has worked for the department since 1989.

Assistant officer Wan So-ching, 28, is entering the last two weeks of her training and says the course has been tougher than she expected, though she believes it has prepared her well for her new job.

She hopes to work at the Lai King Correctional Institution in Kwai Chung, where more inmates are young minor offenders. 'There is a good chance that they will turn over a new leaf and return to society,' Wan said.