Author: Law, Wai Fung Eric
Title: Integrating social work principles and values : a more humanistic approach in Hong Kong correctional services
Degree: DSW
Year: 2018
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Prisons -- Officials and employees -- China -- Hong Kong
Corrections -- Officials and employees -- China -- Hong Kong
Prisons -- China -- Hong Kong
Corrections -- China -- Hong Kong
Department: Department of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: xi, 348 pages : illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: In Hong Kong, the Correctional Services Department (CSD) appeals to all correctional officers to uphold the values of integrity, professionalism, humanity, discipline and perseverance. This current study explores whether the integration of social work principles and values into the thoughts of correctional officers will further enhance their service standards. Qualitative research, using in-depth interviews in "one-on-one" settings was implemented. As each interview can only explore the views, experiences, beliefs of individual participants, a total of 20 participants were selected for interview. Category 1 composed 17 serving and retired frontline to administrative correctional officers, as well as those with and without social work training. Category 2 consisted of three rehabilitated persons, following release from prison, who volunteered to be interviewed. Other relevant information, including the comments and allegations of four sentenced prominent figures of Hong Kong who were released on bail for appeal at the time of study, was retrieved from government documents, journals, mass media, newspapers and artefacts for reference and comparison purposes. This study found that the main reasons for all serving and retired correctional officers for joining the service were attractive salaries and fringe benefits. Some social work trained officers placed 'learn for practice' as priority. Although they share the contemporary correctional policies, vision, mission and values of the Department, they ask for equal attention to be placed on prison management. They also agree that social work values, knowledge and skills are useful in their day-to-day work, but application is usually limited as they cannot jeopardize the security of correction environments. One even suggests only social work trained graduates should be recruited to work in the Rehabilitation Division to enhance the service standards of the re-integration programme. Furthermore, some problems and issues surrounding the CSD were also identified, such as staff wastage and morale, departmental culture, management concepts, thoughts of correctional officers, workplace communication, support from the Government and the community, and Chinese culture around penal philosophy. These major elements are interwoven with the Department's service standards. Moreover, the CSD's four critical success factors and rehabilitation approach in the reformation and re-integration of offenders was also reviewed. Indeed, all correctional policies are executed by correctional officers. Thus, the researcher argues that the very first step for further service enhancement is through changing the thoughts of correctional officers as thoughts change actions. This study suggests correctional administrators and supervisors should actively engage as agents of change and be conversant with the knowledge and skills of the social work profession in engaging people, promoting change and using the self. At the same time, they should respect the dignity and worth of individual correctional officers and establish human relationships and integrity with them. In addition, this study suggests adding three elements, that is, the open-minded penal policy, adequate resources allocation from the Government, and unfailing support of the offender's family and peers to supplement the CSD's four critical success factors in rehabilitation. Lastly, a pioneering "Re-Integration Approach" is also proposed here as the benchmark for the service enhancement of the CSD.

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