Riot unit guards jail staff quarters
OFFICERS armed with anti-riot guns have been deployed on a special mission to protect thousands of families living in CSD staff quarters.
At least 20 Correctional Services Department (CSD) officers from its Emergency Support Group (ESG) are patrolling around the clock at two 'high risk' quarters: Stanley Prison and Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre.
The move comes after a series of violent attacks on prison premises by a group claiming to speak for present and former prisoners demanding better conditions and an end to the sedation of inmates.
The most recent was the first to target CSD quarters. An officer's car exploded in an apparent arson attack.
CSD families told the Sunday Morning Post that many in the 44 residential quarters had been living in fear for nearly a month.
'With the first attack, we all thought it was an accident. Only later did I start worrying that those responsible might target Shek Pik,' said officer's wife Christine Shum Wong Yuet-may, in their CSD quarters beside the Lantau Island prison.
Mrs Shum said she now avoided leaving her flat, where windows and doors were kept bolted.
Another neighbour, whose husband had been transferred to a prison some distance away, rarely ventured outside, she said.
Special duty crews armed with Remington Shell Guns, used in anti-riot operations, now guard 'high-risk' premises in four shifts.
Sources said bullets in the cartridges would split apart when fired long-range. They are usually employed to disperse rioting crowds, but will kill if fired at short range.
ESG team members are normally responsible for escorting convicts from courts to prisons.
Correctional Services Officers' Association spokesman Fung Kin-hing said patrols in more than 40 other staff quarters, suspended a year ago because of manpower shortages, had been resumed.
'Quarters' patrol was resumed after the third attack at Stanley Prison. It was done to reassure thousands of families living in fear,' Mr Fung said.
Officers and family members are to report to the control room if they spot any strangers or suspicious vehicles. Visitors must register and give written reasons for entering restricted areas.
The attacks began on April 18 when a group of men used a truck to smash the entrance to Stanley Prison.
A week later, the guard post of Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre was demolished by a dumper truck, and four cars belonging to CSD staff members were vandalised.
Last weekend, a car being used by a Stanley Prison superintendent exploded at the nearby residential quarters in an apparent arson attack.
Threatening banners and angry complaints about the treatment of prisoners have been left behind each time.