Although the Chief Magistrate (now Commissioner of Police (Hong Kong)) was given control over prisons in 1841, the legislation to create the department did not come into being until 1853. CSD was part of the Hong Kong Police Force until 1879 when the role of Superintendent of Victoria Gaol was created. Superintendent of Victoria Gaol was re-titled as Superintendent of Prisons, the department has been financially independent from the Hong Kong Police Force since 1921.
As with all of the Hong Kong Disciplined Services, British-pattern rank insignia continue to be utilised, with the only change being the replacement of the St. Edward's Crown by the Bauhinia flower crest in 1997.
Commissioner of Correctional Services (similar insignia to a UK General)
As of 2018[update] there were about 100,000 books in the prison libraries; the percentages by language were 83% Chinese, 10% English, and 7% not in Chinese nor English. Prison authorities stated that they did not wish to buy very many books in neither official language to ensure the security of the prisons; Legco member Shiu Ka-chun criticised this rationale.
TVB drama series Tomorrow Is Another Day was filmed with the full co-operation of the CSD who allowed the film crew to film and access to Stanley and other prisons.
2017 Independent Movie With Prisoners [zh] (同囚) was filmed as a story about prisoners being tortured inhumanly in Sha Tsui Correctional Institution. A claim that the film was based on real events was later retracted.