ACAN members pleased with positive impact of Tai Po School Drug Testing Trial Scheme (with photos)

     Members of the Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) were briefed at its quarterly meeting today (December 16) on the findings of the research study on the Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing in Tai Po District (2010/11 school year).  They were pleased to note that the study reaffirmed the positive impact of the scheme.

     The Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing in Tai Po District was implemented in the 2009/10 school year and continued in the 2010/11 school year.  The Government commissioned a research organisation to undertake an evaluation of the scheme in parallel to enable assessment of the scheme over a longer period and its outcome.

    The report reconfirmed the conclusion of the research on the scheme in the 2009/10 school year that the scheme was effective as a preventive measure in enhancing students' resolve to stay away from drugs and establish a drug-free campus, and had no adverse implications for parent-child relationships, teacher-student relationships and students' trust in their school.

     The report recommended that drug testing should be continued in Tai Po and the Government should support schools in all districts to develop a comprehensive anti-drug policy in a school-based approach.

     ACAN Chairman Professor Daniel Shek said he was pleased to note the positive results revealed by the report.

     "In light of the positive results, ACAN members fully support the Government's initiative to pursue the Healthy School Programme with a drug testing component which can help strengthen students' resilience and resolve to stay away from drugs, fostering a drug-free culture in school."

     The Commissioner for Narcotics, Mrs Erika Hui, said the Government had accepted the research recommendations to further develop drug testing in schools.

     She said, "The Government has launched a Healthy School Programme which comprises both diversified personal growth programmes and a drug testing component, starting from the 2011/12 school year.  So far more than 40 schools have been granted Beat Drugs Fund funding to launch the programme.  The Narcotics Division (ND) and the Education Bureau will continue to enlist the support of secondary schools throughout the territory for the programme."

     Members also reviewed the drug situation in the first three quarters of 2011 at the meeting. The total number of reported drug abusers in the first three quarters of 2011 dropped by 6.3% (from 10,339 to 9,684).  The number of reported young drug abusers aged under 21 decreased by 28.2% (from 2,295 to 1,647) compared to the same period last year.

     The number of newly reported drug abusers was 11.9% lower (from 2,897 to 2,552).  Among them, those aged under 21 dropped by 32.2% (from 1,404 to 952) compared to the same period last year.

     Nevertheless, the number of newly reported drug abusers aged 21 or over increased by 7.2% (from 1,493 to 1,600).

     Heroin remained the most popular type of drug abused.  The total number of reported heroin abusers in the first three quarters of 2011 was 3.4% lower than in the same period of 2010 (from 5,286 to 5,106).

     Ketamine was the most common type of psychotropic substance abused.  However, the number of reported ketamine abusers was 16.3% lower (from 3,656 to 3,059).  Among these abusers, 38.6% were aged under 21.

     Mrs Hui stressed that although there was continued improvement in the local drug situation, the Government would not be complacent nor slacken its anti-drug efforts.

      She said, "The Government has noticed the growing trend of hidden youth drug abuse. Most young drug abusers take drugs at home or at their friends' home.  This has increased the difficulty in identifying young drug abusers.

     "Early identification of youths troubled by drugs and providing them with appropriate assistance is very important.  We will continue efforts to promote public awareness of the hidden nature problem of youth drug abuse, promote a 'neighbourhood watch' spirit and encourage more district bodies to exploit district-based networks to promote community awareness of the problem and stay alert to the challenge in the fight against drugs together hand-in-hand.  The ND will also step up support services for parents to facilitate early identification and intervention."

     The Government will also continue its efforts to promote understanding of the harmful effects of drug abuse.

     Noting that ketamine has remained the most popular type of psychotropic substance abused, Mrs Hui said the Government would launch a new set of Announcements in the Public Interest and posters today to highlight the harmful effects of abusing ketamine and to dispel misconceptions that ketamine is not addictive.

     With Christmas and New Year around the corner, Professor Shek and Mrs Hui, joined by the Deputy Commander of Police Border District, Mr Chiu Ming-wah, officers of Hong Kong Customs and the Immigration Department, and the Chairman and members of the North District Fight Crime Committee, distributed anti-drug leaflets at Lo Wu Boundary Control Point after the ACAN meeting to appeal to the public, particularly youth, to remain vigilant and stay away from drugs during the holidays.

     The ND and various organisations will organise a number of anti-drug publicity activities in the coming days.  These will include an anti-drug variety show and distribution of anti-drug leaflets at karaoke venues.  Law enforcement agencies will also step up enforcement to combat drug-related crimes.

     The research study report on the Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing in Tai Po District (2010/11 school year) has been uploaded to the ND's website (

Ends/Friday, December 16, 2011
Issued at HKT 19:45