Mr Ng Joo Hee, Director of Prisons,
Mr Kong Mun Kwong, Chairman of SCORE,
Prisons and SCORE officers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I’m pleased to be here with you today for the Prisons-SCORE Corporate Advance 2009.
2008 in review
2. 2008 was a challenging year for the Home Team. The Home Team, including Prisons and SCORE, have emerged more experienced. There is a determination to stay focused on our mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure.
3. Prisons and SCORE officers can be proud of their hard work and achievements. Prisons was re-certified for the Business Excellence Niche Standards under the Singapore Quality Award framework by SPRING Singapore. This is a testimony that high standards in the areas of innovation, people development and service excellence have been maintained in Prisons. Prisons was also awarded the Hewitt Best Employers’ Award for the second year in a row. Prisons recognises the value and potential of its officers, and invests resources and effort to groom and develop them.
4. There was an increase in new employers signing up to hire ex-offenders during the Yellow Ribbon Project month last year – 133 compared to 79 in 2007. The efforts of SCORE officers to raise awareness of giving ex-offenders a second chance, train and equip inmates with new work skills, and engage potential employers have no doubt contributed to this.
5. To the Prisons and SCORE officers: Well done.
6. The road ahead for Prisons and SCORE will continue to be challenging.
7. The overall recidivism rate for the prison population has remained at about 25 per cent for the release cohort of 2006. This is an excellent result, especially when compared with similar penal systems in other developed countries. However, this also represents a slight increase from 2005 and the bottoming-out of the decreasing recidivism rate observed over the past few years.
8. It is unrealistic to expect the recidivism rate to continuously decrease year on year. The decreasing trend may well stabilise. It shows that the Prisons officers’ efforts to become “Captains of Lives” in the rehabilitation of inmates, and SCORE’s efforts to help inmates find employment, have kept many ex-inmates from re-offending. Those who re-offend and are imprisoned again, will be more challenging to manage and rehabilitate.
9. To continue to maintain the low recidivism rate or bring it even lower, Prisons and SCORE will have to continue to work on the rehabilitation strategies and programmes, as well as to work with the community and families to ensure that the reintegration needs of ex-offenders are better met.
Tough economic environment
10. We have not been spared from the global economic recession. As the economy contracts, the shortage of jobs in the community will make reintegration and aftercare efforts more difficult and challenging. In addition to the downturn, the crime rate may well rise. Prisons and SCORE must stand prepared and ready to cope with the potential increase in the inmate population, even as you find new and better ways to manage the existing inmates.
Increasingly complex requirements
11. The new security environment has also increased the demands on Prisons. Prisons is spearheading an effort by the Home Team to expand the secured medical ward for those held in custody by the Police, the Central Narcotics Bureau and Immigration Authorities who are admitted into hospital.
12. In addition, the government is exploring new community based sentencing options that will allow some offenders to remain in the community while serving out their sentences. If these options are implemented, the roles and responsibilities of Prisons officers in supervising and rehabilitating these offenders will be expanded. You must be prepared to acquire new skills set to cope with the expanded scope of operations.
Rising to the task
13. Since last year, Prisons has developed a “Business Framework” to give its officers a greater sense of purpose and understanding of the direction of Prisons as an organisation. There is greater clarity and alignment on the core businesses which are one, “Executing Justice” by ensuring the safe custody of inmates when they serve out their sentences; two, “Preventing Re-Offending” through the rehabilitation, reintegration and aftercare of inmates; and three, “Preventing Offending” by initiating more upstream interventions.
14. Four purposes of incarceration underpin this “Business Framework” namely Punishment, Reform, Incapacitation, and Deterrence; or collectively known as P.R.I.DE.. These purposes seek to provide greater clarity in delivering your core businesses, and defining your products and services in attaining organisational excellence.
15. Prisons has also identified several high leverage projects for the year ahead, for example, enhanced staff training to adapt to the new operating environment; remaking of the Housing Unit Management System; and strategies to eliminate SS gang-related activities in Prisons.
16. In 2009, Prisons will also see the operationalisation of Cluster B in the Changi Prison Complex. This is a significant milestone in Prisons’ vision to centralise all institutions in the Changi area. Similar to Cluster A, the new Cluster B will have institutions share common services, and in the process, be able to reap significant operational efficiency. This will bring about greater flexibility in optimising resources to enhance security, and facilitate rehabilitation.
17. SCORE on its part has aligned its training strategy for inmates with the National Training Framework of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency. This has allowed inmates to undergo the same training as any other Singaporean job seeker, and will help them in their job search after release. SCORE is also seeking opportunities in this economic crisis, with plans to step up efforts at improving inmates’ basic employability skills, so that they would be ready for the workforce when the jobs return.
18. By staying focused on your core duties and constantly innovating and refining your operations to meet new challenges, Prisons and SCORE will be able to continue to keep the recidivism rate low, playing its part in the Home Team to make Singapore a safe and secure best home and be an outstanding example for correctional institutions world-wide.
19. I wish you success in your efforts in the year ahead. On this note, I declare the Prisons-SCORE Corporate Advance 2009 open.
 Percentage of local inmates who are imprisoned again for a new offence within two years following their release