For information on
on 11 December 1997

Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Security

Subcommittee on Overcrowdedness
in Penal Institutions

Measures to Relieve Prison Overcrowding: Next Steps


This paper informs Members of the latest forecast of prison population and new measures under consideration to relieve prison overcrowding.

Updated forecast of demand for prison places

2.We have recently developed an improved forecasting model to prepare our forecast of prison population. Previous projections were largely based on simple extrapolation from historical data. The improved model correlates the forecast to projected crime arrests and prosecutions, and includes input from other law enforcement departments other than Correctional Services Department, i.e., Police and Immigration Department. Accordingly, we have completed a new set of projected prison population (see D2a and D2b in the chart at the Annex). Our plan is to conduct rolling forecast on an annual basis so that we can keep pace with the changing trends to facilitate our planning for prison accommodation.

3.Current projections show that overcrowding will continue to be most serious at three pressure points: female prisons, remand centres and maximum security prisons. The latest overcrowding rates in these institutions are respectively 33%, 28% and 37%.

Supply of prison places in the pipeline

4.Three projects are in the pipeline. Firstly, redevelopment works in the Stanley Prison area are progressing on schedule and are expected to provide 200 prison places by the end of 1997 and 575 prison places by 1999. Secondly, a proposal to redevelop Tai Lam Correctional Institution to provide 260 prison places is being processed in the Public Works Programme. Thirdly, we are pursuing a project to construct new prison facilities at Yam O. We consulted the Islands District Board (DB) on 28 April 1997 and the Tsuen Wan DB on 6 May 1997 on this project. When the Planning Department recently consulted the Tsuen Wan Provisional District Board*s Environmental Affairs Committee (EAC) on a proposed zoning amendment to enable the Yam O site to be used for penal purpose, the EAC objected to the amendment. Their views will be reflected in a submission to the Town Planning Board in early 1998. If we can proceed with the construction of the project in 2000 as planned, an additional 1 200 prison places will come on stream in 2003.

Projected shortfall after taking into account supply of prison places from projects in the pipeline

5.Assuming that all the three projects in the pipeline can be materialized, our new projection still projects a shortfall of 2 400 places by 2003 (see SF1 in the chart at the Annex). Accordingly, the projected prison overcrowding rate in 2003 would be 23%.

New measures under consideration

6.We are considering the following new measures to increase the supply of penal places -

  1. to give relief to female prisons: we are working on two proposals to provide relief to overcrowding in female prisons:

    1. redesignate a section of Chi Ma Wan Drug Addiction Treatment Centre as a female prison to provide about 70 prison places, subject to a continuing declining trend in the population in female drug addiction treatment centres and availability of space;

    2. redesignate Ma Hang Prison as a female prison to provide about 220 prison places upon the commissioning of the new prison facilities at Yam O;

  2. to provide relief to remand centres: Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre (LCKRC), which is a reception centre for all categories of adult male remand prisoners, currently has an overcrowding rate of 35% above its design capacity of 960 penal places. In order to increase its capacity, we are working on a proposal to build an annex on a site (currently used as a temporary bus depot) adjacent to LCKRC. If this proposal can be materialized, it will create an additional 400 places; and

  3. to provide relief to Victoria Prison, we are working on a proposal to set up an Immigration Centre (the Centre) within the permanent Immigration Service Training School site at Perowne, Tuen Mun, to accommodate immigration detainees pending removal. When the Centre becomes operational in 2003, the immigration cases in Victoria Prison can be transferred to the Centre, thus freeing about 200 prison places, which can be used for a variety of purposes, including the relief of overcrowding in female prisons.

Revised projected shortfall after taking into account supply of prison places from new measures

7.If all these projects can be materialized as currently planned, we expect a revised projected shortfall of 1 700 prison places in 2003 (see SF2 in the chart at the Annex).

An additional prison complex

8.According to our new projection and plans, even if all the preceding projects can be realized, we still need to build new prison facilities to create about 1 700 additional prison places. We are planning to build an additional medium/minimum security prison complex, which will be able to provide relief to maximum security prison places that are currently taken up by prisoners requiring medium security accommodation. We are still actively identifying suitable sites. We will make an announcement as soon as we are in a position to do so.

Security Bureau
December 1997