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LCQ2: Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing in Tai Po District

     Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, to a question by the Hon Cheung Kwok-che in the Legislative Council today (October 27):


     It has been nearly one year since the Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing in Tai Po District (drug testing scheme) was launched at the end of last year, and in the course of drug testing conducted by the Student Drug Testing (SDT) team, project officers from the Home Affairs Department are present on site to observe the drug testing procedures.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the rank and average salary of project officers;

(b) of the details of the work being carried out by project officers when observing on site the drug testing by SDT team and the purpose of their work;

(c) whether project officers may offer on-the-spot comments in the course of drug testing; if they may, of the aspects on which they may comment; whether it has assessed if such comments will affect the professional work and judgement of the social workers and nurses in relation to drug testing procedures; if an assessment has been conducted, of the assessment results; and how it ensures that project officers will not impede the drug testing procedures and interviews when offering on-the-spot comments;

(d) whether project officers possess the professional qualifications of social workers or nurses; and

(e) given that the drug testing scheme will continue to be implemented in this school year, whether the authorities have any plan to change the number of project officers; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



(a) The Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing in Tai Po District (the Scheme) was carried out in the 2009/10 school year. A Chief Executive Officer and a Senior Executive Officer from the Government were provisionally deployed to serve as project officers. The mid-point salaries of these two ranks are $83,060 and $60,890 per month respectively.

(b) Before the Scheme was launched, we had prepared a detailed Protocol to ensure that the Scheme would be implemented in accordance with the following four principles:

     (i) helping students in their best interest;
     (ii) voluntary participation by students and parents;
     (iii) keeping all personal information strictly confidential; and
     (iv) professional testing and support services for participating students.

     Following the Protocol, the project officers are principally responsible for :

     (i) observing the Student Drug Testing (SDT) team on school visits and offering comments on whether the SDT team has adhered to the drug testing procedures set out in the Protocol;

     (ii) advising participating schools on the data privacy requirements relating to drug testing as set out in the Protocol, and relaying concerns identified to relevant authorities;

     (iii) handling complaints relating to drug testing from participating students, their parents/guardians, or other relevant parties; and

     (iv) compiling school visit reports to school principals, and monthly compliance reports and a final report to school principals and the Government at the end of the Scheme.

     For each school visit by the SDT team, the project officers must be present to observe the whole process, to ensure that the drug testing procedures are duly performed by all parties in accordance with the Protocol.

(c) The Protocol has laid down clear and detailed guidelines on the drug testing procedures, covering aspects such as the list of participating students, arrangement for random selection, urine specimen collection, screening tests, confirmatory tests, result notification and protection of personal data privacy, for field staff to abide by. If deviations are observed during testing, a project officer may, based on his or her judgment of the matter, offer views either on the spot or upon completion of the procedures, but always in the best interests of the student. The project officers' observations and comments must be based on the drug testing procedures set out in the Protocol. Hence, they could not be prejudicial to the professional work and judgment of the field staff.

(d) The two project officers deployed in the Scheme were drawn from the Executive Officer grade, who are experienced in resource and system management as well as internal monitoring. Their duties include practical application of legislation relating to the protection of personal data.  Hence, they are suited for the posts of project officers.

(e) Based on the experience gained in the implementation of the Scheme in the previous school year and in consultation with the participating schools, we have decided to carry on the arrangement for two project officers this school year in continuing the Scheme, with appropriate refinements. Accordingly a Senior Executive Officer and an Executive Officer I have been deployed to carry out the work.

Ends/Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Issued at HKT 16:32


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