Sharp fall in drug arrests after two-year campaign

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 July, 2010, 12:00am

There was a sharp drop in the number of young people arrested for drug-related offences after a two-year effort to fight the problem, the security chief said yesterday.

Figures showed that the number aged under 21 found committing serious drug offences fell to 346 in the first five months of the year from 517 in the same period last year.

'I think this is a good indicator that our fight-drug policy is gaining momentum and is gaining effect.' Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong said: 'This is a positive and welcome development. I think we must keep up our momentum, educating our youngsters to stay away from drugs.'

The number of serious drug offences by people of all ages fell 23 per cent to 962 in the first five months.

The decrease came two years after Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung unveiled a series of measures ranging from prevention, rehabilitation and enforcement to publicity in a fight against the use of illegal drugs by young people. The measures included a pilot drug-testing scheme in schools.

The measures were taken after the Action Committee Against Narcotics said the reported number of drug users under 21 rose by 13 per cent from 2,581 in 2006 to 2,919 in 2007.

The latest crime figures show that the number of juveniles aged 10 to 15 arrested for various crimes dropped by 13.3 per cent to 1,780 in the first five months of the year from 2,053 in the same period last year.

There was a 16.1 per cent drop in the number aged 16 to 20 arrested between January and May this year, compared with last year.

As the seizure of illegal drugs including heroin, cannabis, Ice and Ecstasy fell sharply over the same period, the seizure of cocaine increased by more than 1,100 per cent to 404kg and seizures of ketamine rose 66 per cent to 73kg.

Lee said the sharp increase in the seizures of cocaine was due to a record seizure of 372kg of the drug in April. 'The record seizure of cocaine a few months ago indicated that cocaine is gaining a certain popularity among drug offenders, and this is a worrying development.'

He said police and customs officers would step up their efforts in stopping all kings of drugs from entering the city.

Speaking after attending the latest Fight Crime Committee meeting, Lee said the law and order situation was quite stable between January and May as the overall crime rate fell by 2 per cent, with violent crimes down by 3.3 per cent.

But the number of pickpocketing cases rose by 43 per cent to 657 and reports of indecent assault increased by 17.3 per cent to 624.

Cleaning up

The security chief attributed the drop in arrests to a two-year education campaign

The number of serious drug offences dropped by 23 per cent to: 962