Seven riot officers face disciplinary action

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 October, 2000, 12:00am

Seven correctional services officers are facing disciplinary action for their conduct during a riot by 400 inmates at Hei Ling Chau drug centre in June.

The suggestion of disciplinary proceedings is among 20 recommendations made by the Correctional Services Department's inquiry board set up to investigate the riot on June 4.

But the department did not disclose in a report to legislators why the seven officers' conduct was called into question. It said the release of the details might affect the disciplinary hearing and a separate criminal investigation by police.

The board concluded that the riot at Hei Ling Chau Drug Addiction Treatment Centre, which injured 32 disciplinary staff and 33 inmates, was not premeditated. It said it was an outbreak of mob behaviour which escalated quickly and was triggered by a minor dispute between local and Vietnamese inmates.

The mob ransacked the centre, set fire to the premises, attacked the dormitory of the Vietnamese inmates and armed themselves with gas cylinders to demand guards hand over the Vietnamese.

The riot caused damage estimated at $12 million and 119 complaints were subsequently put forward by 37 inmates against the management of the centre, although only 39 were relevant to the disturbance.

The board said there was room for improvement in management issues, including the possession of unauthorised articles by some inmates and lax supervision by some prison guards. 'Management malpractices were identified and rectified,' the department said in the report.

It said a special taskforce had been set up to implement the 20 recommendations, including plans to provide extra ferry services so officers could arrive at the island just off Lantau quicker in times of emergency.

Another team had been created to review security control rooms and to set up a mobile communication system. Internal fences were being erected to improve control of inmates, while the liquefied petroleum gas store was being moved from the centre of the institution.

Reviews are also being conducted into the design of rehabilitation programmes to reflect younger inmates' propensity to take part in emotional outbursts. The department said investigations into all 119 complaints from the inmates were being finalised and parties would be advised on the findings.

It said police had referred their separate criminal investigation findings on the riot to the Department of Justice for advice.