Government response to ACAN's conclusion of consultation on RESCUE Drug Testing Scheme

     A Government spokesman said the Administration agreed with the conclusion of the public consultation exercise on the RESCUE Drug Testing Scheme (RDT), and recommendations released by the Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) today (July 2). The Government is committed to developing specific proposals for the RDT as soon as practicable.

     The spokesman said, "The Administration agrees with ACAN's observations and recommendations. We note that there is strong public support for the RDT, including the support by over 90 per cent of respondents in an independent poll and certain quarters of the community, such as parents, those providing treatment services for drug abusers, and those who have benefitted from the drug treatment services.

     "Although views are more divided among some key stakeholders, there is general support for the objective of early identification to enable counselling and help to be given to drug abusers in a timely manner.

     "We also note that there is successful experience overseas where law enforcement officers and the social services would work hand-in-hand in identifying drug abusers, as well as following up with counselling and treatment services."

     The spokesman pointed out that the problem of hidden drug abuse has continued to deteriorate in spite of early signs of improvement in the drug scene as reflected by the downward trend of reported drug abusers and new drug abusers.

     "The median time of newly reported drug abusers further increased from 4.0 years in 2012 to 4.6 years in 2013. In light of this and taking into account the strong public support for the RDT, we support ACAN's view that there is a strong case to continue to examine issues concerning the implementation of the RDT as an additional tool to facilitate early identification of drug abusers and early intervention," the spokesman said.

     "The Government is committed to developing specific proposals, taking into account views received during the public consultation exercise and addressing concerns expressed.

      "We will also continue to work with ACAN to dispel fear and build understanding through research, pilot projects and experience sharing by overseas experts. This will allow room for ongoing dialogue with interested parties on aspects of concern in drawing up detailed proposals for the RDT before contemplating a second-stage consultation," he added.

     The spokesman thanked the ACAN for its dedicated efforts in ensuring the smooth running of the consultation.

Ends/Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:59