The Hong Kong government will spend more than HK$677,000 per prisoner next year after injecting HK$5.1 billion into the Correctional Services Department’s budget – a boost of almost 10 per cent.
The department will receive HK$400 million more funding than in 2021, according to the 2022 budget delivered by Financial Secretary Paul Chan on Wednesday. The latest injection for the corrections department is 9.9 per cent more than what it was originally allocated in 2021, and is 8.3 per cent more than its revised spending last year.
Hong Kong’s prisons will expect to house a daily average of 7,240 inmates in the coming year, rising from an average of 6,628 inmates recorded in 2020. Prison occupancy is subsequently expected to increase from 70.1 per cent to 76 per cent.
Together with detainees in rehabilitation centres and drug addiction treatment centre programmes, the government estimated that it will have a total of 7,630 individuals in its prison system. The 2022 budget figures mean that, on average, the authorities are spending an average of HK$677,337 per detainee.
In comparison, an average working person in Hong Kong makes HK$216,000 a year.
More budget for prisons than rehab
Of the HK$5.1 billion commitment, HK$3.95 billion will be poured into the department’s prison management operations – 9.8 per cent more than what it was estimated to have spent last year. The department overspent its original budget by about 2.6 per cent last year.
Meanwhile, the department’s re-integration arm – which runs rehabilitative education and training programmes for released prisoners and people suffering from drug abuse – will only see a 4 per cent increase in budget.
However, despite having to cater to an increasing number of inmates, the department will not see its staffing increase – it will retain 7,281 posts in total next year, the same as the previous year’s.
Prison officers and civil servants in the department will see their total salaries increase by 7.8 per cent this year, or HK$247 million. The rise in staffing expenses is the result of a revised salary structure for personnel in the disciplinary forces that came into effect last September after it received unanimous approval at the legislature, now dominated by pro-establishment lawmakers.
Although the department spent about 40 per cent less on machinery, equipment, and vehicles than what was originally allocated last year, the government will nevertheless double its budget for gear and vehicles from HK$128 million to HK$275 million.
HKFP’s coverage in full:
- HK$10,000 consumption vouchers for all.
- Gov’t pledges over HK$54b to fight Covid-19 ‘on all fronts and at full speed’.
- One-off tax cuts, property rate concessions, electricity subsidies for residents.
- Economic rebound surpassed global growth last year, but will worsen under Covid.
- HK100 billion earmarked for Northern Metropolis plan.
- Landlords will be barred from terminating the tenancies of some small firms.
- Police vehicle and gear budget to quadruple to HK$508 million.
- Prisons to spend over HK$677,000 per detainee next year with 10% budget boost.
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