Research results of Tai Po School Drug Testing Trial Scheme 2009/10 released (with video)

     The Under Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, said today (November 3) that the Government had accepted the research study report on the Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing in Tai Po District (school year 2009/10), which recommended the further development of voluntary school drug testing as a pioneering and innovative part of the Government's overall anti-drug efforts.

     The Scheme was launched in December 2009 and completed smoothly in June 2010. The Government commissioned a professional research organisation to undertake a parallel comprehensive assessment of the design, implementation and effectiveness of the Scheme; also to study other local and overseas experiences in school drug testing and to suggest refinements and revisions to the Scheme.

     Speaking at a press conference on the findings of the research study, Mr Lai said the Government was pleased to note that the study found that the Scheme had generally achieved the dual objectives of strengthening students' resolve to stay away from drugs, and providing support for students troubled by drugs.

     He said, "The study found that the Scheme has had a positive impact on enhancing students' resolve to stay away from drugs, building an anti-drug culture in schools and triggering the motivation of those in need to seek help. Early concerns such as the possible labelling effect and adverse impact on the parent-child relationship, student-teacher relationship, and upon parents' and students' trust in schools were not borne out by the evidence."

     In light of the positive results revealed in the research, the study recommended that the Tai Po Scheme should be extended to the school year 2010/11, and that school drug testing should be further developed in Hong Kong.

     Mr Lai pointed out that the Scheme would continue in this school year to reinforce the ground gained last school year, and to further cultivate the anti-drug culture which is beginning to take root. Given the Scheme's relatively short duration, the Administration will gather more experience and data during this school year to continue the assessment of its effectiveness.
     On the further development of drug testing in other schools and districts, the study made a series of recommendations regarding the grouping of schools, participation of stakeholders, implementation arrangements, drug testing methods, supporting services, resource support and the Government's role.

     The report noted that drug testing should not be seen as a standalone panacea, but it could be a key preventive or deterrent part of a comprehensive programme to implement the healthy school policy. Mr Lai said the Government would forge ahead in implementing the healthy school policy. In promoting drug testing, schools would be encouraged to put in place complementary components such as supporting parents, assisting teachers to play a proper role, mentoring students, and introducing physical and mental health check-up to help students in need.

     Mr Lai said, "To further develop school drug testing, the study recommended that it should be a voluntary, school-based and student-oriented approach with community participation. In promoting school drug testing, the Government will encourage schools to form into groups flexibly. Schools will also have greater freedom in the selection of partner non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in future school drug testing schemes.

     "On drug testing methods, schools can choose either urine testing or hair testing according to their own circumstances," he said.

     "Overall, participating schools will be given much room to manoeuvre in introducing schemes that best suit their particular circumstances, in line with the school-based spirit."

     On the Government's role, Mr Lai said the Government would play a facilitating and promotional role, and would encourage schools to pursue drug testing as part of the healthy school policy. The Administration will also provide support to interested schools and organisations including offering advice and sponsoring school drug testing schemes through the Beat Drug Fund (BDF).

     He noted that the Chief Executive had announced in his Policy Address last month that the Government would step up school social services in all secondary schools by a 20% increase in professional manpower, with a focus on anti-drug work and in support of possible drug testing schemes that might be put in place.
     Mr Lai said, "The Government will engage stakeholders, including school sponsoring bodies and management, parent bodies, students and NGOs, to enhance their understanding of the research findings and recommendations, and to enlist their support for further developing school drug testing.

     "We will invite interested schools and NGOs to propose drug testing schemes in collaboration and apply for BDF funding. Having regard to the engagement process required and the BDF funding procedures, we expect that the next round of school drug testing following the research recommendations may start to come on stream in the school year 2011/12."

     Mr Lai noted that youth drug problems had shown some signs of easing. He believes this is a result of the enhanced anti-drug measures taken by the Government, in conjunction with the support and co-operation of different sectors of the community - and that the School Drug Testing Trial Scheme in Tai Po has played a major, pioneering part. The Administration will continue its anti-drug efforts following the five-pronged approach.
     Also present at today's press conference were Commissioner for Narcotics, Ms Sally Wong, Assistant Director of the Social Welfare Department, Mr Fung Man-lok, and Principal Education Officer of the Education Bureau, Mr Benjamin Yung. The Director of Policy 21 Limited, the research organisation undertaking the study, Mr Yip Hak-kwong, also attended the press conference.
     The full report and its executive summary have been uploaded to the Narcotics Division's website (

Ends/Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Issued at HKT 16:50