Fatal attraction

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 July, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 July, 2001, 12:00am

There are only two definite conclusions to draw from the soaring number of narcotics offences reported by the police in the first six months of this year. One is that no matter how frequent the raids on rave parties and karaoke lounges, they appear to have no deterrent effect on teenagers who experiment with drugs. The 1,271 arrests are merely the tip of the iceberg.

The other is that some of these young people will die as a result.

Rave parties have become such a popular addition to the entertainment scene that crowds of up to 10,000 flock to venues across the SAR every weekend. They have led to an epidemic of psychotropic drugs. The 'just say no' approach is simply not working.

The heady, liberated atmosphere at these events, with hypnotic music and crowds of revellers, is both alluring and misleading. It is hard to associate them with physical danger when hundreds of people are milling around, dancing energetically and generally having a good time.

Children as young as 13 have taken Ecstasy and ketamine. They know there are health risks attached to pill-popping, but the general attitude is 'it won't happen to me'. Yet in eight months to August last year, 19 people died after swallowing Ecstasy or ketamine.

And there are other hazards associated with the pills. When a driver led police on a high-speed car chase through Kowloon in April, damaging 13 vehicles and injuring four police officers, he was found to be under the influence of a psychotropic drug. Since driving under the influence of drugs is not an offence, he was charged with furious driving. The law must be amended to take account of present-day behaviour.

But it is the pushers, rather than their clients, who have to be rounded up and given stiffer sentences. Many teenagers finance their own trips to raves in Shenzhen by bringing back drugs to sell here. A Customs blitz may be more effective than police raids in Mongkok.