Working at the Correctional Services Department (CSD) could be tough, but it is exactly the challenges and diverse tasks that make its officers motivated.
Before being appointed to her current position as officer at CSD's staff training institute in Stanley, Carman Ching Ka-man worked in a psychological services team that rehabilitated drug addicts.
"It was challenging at the beginning as I was assigned to maintain discipline and provide counselling at the same time. But things got easier once I resolved my conflicting roles. It felt good when I succeeded in developing a rapport with the inmates and saw them change for the better," she says.
Ching is now responsible for coordinating instructional materials and teaching a class of 30 cadets. "My role is similar to that of a head teacher," she explains. "And it is meaningful to see how the new recruits grow from knowing nothing to being ready, physically and mentally, for the challenges ahead."
Ching's colleague, social sciences and penal management officer Wong Wai-tak, also finds "changes" agreeable.
When Wong left the staff training institute as a new recruit in 2002, he was appointed to Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre which held over 1,000 offenders. "It took me a long time to get used to the routine of the inmates and to the almost daily incidents they got involved in ," says Wong, joking that it was a dark period. "But after I learned how to take the right action at the right time, things became much easier. Now I find my job fulfilling."
In fact, it was just the start of his learning curve. "After that, I was transferred to Lai Sun Correctional Institution on Hei Ling Chau Island, which offered comprehensive vocational training courses - such as metalwork and bakery - to those who were about to be released. That time, I saw some changes in myself: not only was I concerned about their discipline, but I also started thinking what their new life would be like and how we could help them," he says.
One of Wong's major duties at present is to prepare teaching materials and deliver panel management courses to cadets.
Aside from job rotation, CSD offers off-the-job training to existing staff. Ching and Wong find these beneficial. A few months ago, Ching participated in a six-week cadre course at the Police Tactical Unit.
"In addition to various courses such as firearm training at the police force, I enrolled in a foot drill training programme in Britain in 2009," Wong says.