Drug-testing protocol ready in two weeks

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 September, 2009, 12:00am

The procedures Tai Po schools must follow when the voluntary drug-testing scheme starts in December will be finalised in the next two weeks, the chairman of Action Committee Against Narcotics, Professor Daniel Shek Tan-lei, said yesterday.

Shek, who teaches social work at Chinese University of Hong Kong and who is a veteran anti-drugs campaigner, said some details needed to be adjusted because of the government's changes to the testing scheme.

The rules will be distributed to schools, explaining the procedures and how the scheme will work in secondary schools in Tai Po.

Police will be excluded from the voluntary drug testing scheme, according to a government paper submitted to the Legislative Council on Friday. This is an about-face by officials after heated public debate over the involvement of officers.

In other significant changes to the original scheme, consent will be sought from all students, including minors, before they are asked to take the test, and students who refuse will no longer be required to undergo counselling.

Under the original plan, police would have been informed of any positive tests, and only parents' consent would have been required for minors, raising privacy issues. Only students aged 18 and above were required to sign consent forms.

'Measures about how to make sure students' urine samples are clean are also being studied. Testing urine temperature is one of the options,' Shek said.

He said a study conducted earlier showed 70 to 80 per cent of secondary school students in Tai Po were expected to take part in the voluntary drug-testing scheme.

'The government has fine-tuned details of the scheme. Teenagers will have a better understanding of the scheme and more channels to express their views. The government will continue to collect views on the scheme,' Shek said.

Commissioner for Narcotics Sally Wong Pik-yee said she was not worried that students may boycott the scheme. Briefings about the drug tests would be conducted at secondary schools, she said.