Police launch drug war in party areas

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 July, 2006, 12:00am

Officers fear improving economy will tempt young revellers into substance abuse

Police anti-triad officers are to join a drive against drugs this summer in popular upmarket entertainment areas such as Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo amid fears that the improving economy will spur an increase in drug use.

The deployment is part of Operation Pair Finder launched by police in Central.

The assistant district commander for the Central district crime wing, Li Yick-lung, said the drive, which would include intelligence gathering, regular checks at entertainment premises and education campaigns, was aimed at preventing drug use among young people.

Police made 26 drug-related arrests involving young people aged between 16 and 20 in the 12 months to the end of May, compared with 20 cases in the same period of the previous year.

'When the economy picks up, more people go to entertainment venues,' Mr Li said.

'Lan Kwai Fong is definitely busier now, so the increase [in the number of cases] is more about the rise in the number of people going there.'

Most of the 26 arrests over the past year were for possession of drugs, but two involved selling.

Mr Li said Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo were generally drug-free, although dealers from outside these areas provided a delivery service when they received orders. Early last month police intercepted a car delivering drugs to Lan Kwai Fong, arresting a 23-year-old man and seizing about $10,000 worth of cocaine.

In another crime prevention campaign, police have assigned a detective to contact all pawn shops in the district every day after recording seven cases in 12 months in which domestic helpers stole their employer's valuables and sold them. The stolen property included diamond rings and luxury watches.

One of the cases involved romance novelist Eunice Lam Yin-nei, whose maid was jailed for 14 months in July for stealing watches and jewellery worth $1.1 million between July 2004 and April 2005.

She pawned the items for just $120,000.

Mr Li said the maids were often smart enough to ask a friend to pawn the items for them. Pawn shop operators were now more vigilant and would alert the police while delaying the seller, allowing officers to arrive at the scene and arrest the suspect, he said.

Mr Li added that police had not encountered situations where domestic helpers had stolen their employer's valuables and fled Hong Kong.