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Staff shortages and bribes in Hong Kong’s prisons

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Correctional services staff have been caught offering their colleagues a bribe to cover their night shift reports The Standard.

According to media reports police have been asked to look into if senior officers have been avoiding their night shifts by making others do it for a bribe of HK$800.

Speaking at a news conference, Louisa Yeung, principal of the Correctional Services Department’s Staff Training Institute said they were following up on the matter and the quality assurance division was also investigating.

She said staff are allowed to swap their shifts for personal reasons under established procedures, but money must not change hands.

Yeung said the department is expected to digitalize shift-swapping applications later in the year so monitoring can be strengthened.

Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post reported that prisons are severely understaffed in the territory. According to the report, 400 more officers are needed to staff the 29 prisons in Hong Kong and correctional services would now recruit junior officers year-round to fill vacancies.

According to figures supplied to the SCMP staff shortages had gotten worse in 2016-2017, with an attrition rate of 6.5% as staff retired, resigned, received transfers to other departments or were dismissed. This had increased from 5% compared to three years ago.

256 officers retired last year and 124 officers resigned or were dismissed compared with 204 and 88 respectively three years earlier.

The department is looking to recruit 350 junior officers and over 50 officers in more senior positions.

The junior officers can earn a monthly starting pay of between HK$19,220 (US$2,479) and HK$20,365 and officers in more senior roles can earn between HK$33,320 and HK$41,955.

Photo/Infomation services department

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