ACAN backs Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing in Tai Po District

     Members of the Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) gave their full support to the Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing in Tai Po District at their quarterly meeting today (September 8).

     They were briefed on the scheme's latest proposal.  They said they believed that the scheme would strengthen the resolve of the majority of students who had not taken any drugs to continue to stay away from drugs.  They also agreed that the scheme would help motivate those students abusing drugs to quit drugs and seek help.

     Members were also told that the number of reported young abusers under 21 taking drugs in schools in the first half of 2009 (47) surpassed that in the whole of 2008 (46), according to the Central Registry of Drug Abuse.

     ACAN Chairman, Professor Daniel Shek Tan-lei, said, "The youth drug abuse problem is alarming and members largely agree that the scheme is an effective tool in arresting the trend."

     Professor Shek said that apart from conducting drug tests in schools, other initiatives, such as law enforcement and preventive education and publicity were also important in alleviating the worrying situation.

     Members also noted the revised implementation details of the scheme.  

     "We are pleased to see the changes made to the original proposal after the Administration listened to different views.

     "For instance, prior written consent of both the students and parents will be obtained at the same time regardless of the student's age.  This will encourage a better sense of participation on the part of the students," Professor Shek said.  

     "Members also saw the merit in not providing the Police with the personal information of the students obtained under the scheme for follow-up action.  As the primary objectives of the scheme are prevention and provision of support for students, but not investigation of drug offences, the privacy of students will be further protected."

     Commissioner for Narcotics, Ms Sally Wong, said, "The implementation details of the scheme have been refined in the light of the views and suggestions received. We aim to finalise a protocol for the schools and NGOs concerned by late September.

     "Briefings will be held for secondary school teachers, students and parents in Tai Po in September and October."

     During the meeting, members also reviewed the drug abuse situation in the first half of 2009.  The number of reported young drug abusers under 21 increased by 3.3% (2,175) compared with the same period in 2008 (2,106).  The total number of reported drug abusers was 8,916, representing an increase of 1.7% over the same period in 2008 (8,765).

     The number of newly reported female abusers under 21 showed a sharp increase of 19.3% (from 409 to 488), while the number of newly reported male abusers under 21 decreased by 5.2% (from 882 to 836).

     Heroin remained the most popular drug abused.  The total number of reported heroin abusers was more or less the same as in the same period of 2008.

     The total number of psychotropic substance abusers (4,989) was again higher than that of abusers taking narcotic analgesics (4,694).

     Among the psychotropic substances abused, ketamine remained the most common type.  The number of reported ketamine abusers was 7.6% higher (from 2,919 to 3,140) in the first half of 2009 compared with the same period of 2008.  Among these abusers, 57.5% were aged under 21.

Ends/Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Issued at HKT 19:19