My Take
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 September, 2013, 12:45am

Police don't need more drugs powers


Alex Lo is a senior writer at the South China Morning Post. He writes editorials and the daily “My Take” column on page 2. He also edits the weekly science and technology page in Sunday Morning Post.

Oh boy, I feel safer already. The government wants to unleash specially trained LEOS to RESCUE drug addicts and clean up Hong Kong once and for all.

That's in the bureaucratese of ACAN, or the Action Committee Against Narcotics: our endearing LEOS stand for law enforcement officers in the latest consultation paper to expand the already considerable drug-fighting powers of the police. The proposed drug-testing programme is called RESCUE, an acronym for - I swear I am not making this up - Reasonable and Early Screening for Caring and Universal Engagement. The idea is that the search and seizure power of Asia's finest is not enough. To prevent drug addiction and related crimes, which are actually declining, we need officers who are trained to spot suspected drug abusers and haul them into police stations for mandatory drug testing even if no drug is found on them.

That's "reasonable and early" intervention as our newly and highly trained officers detain anyone they think is on drugs and forcibly test them even with zero evidence. Currently, police have to find at least some drugs on you to make an arrest. And if officers have reasons to suspect you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they can make you undergo a test. However, the wise people of ACAN think that's just not enough police power. Rest assured LEOS will carry out their duties with impartial and specially taught detection skills.

But why the urgency? The number of drug abusers reported to the Central Registry of Drug Abuse fell by 23 per cent to 10, 939 in 2012 from the peak of 14, 241 in 2008. The decline among those aged under 21 is more pronounced, having decreased by 54 per cent from 3,474 to 1,591 in the same period. But you never know because ACAN claims a lot of drugs are now taken at home and so go unreported. How does it know? Well, ACAN member Robert Chow Yung co-founded the political group Silent Majority, so he must know something about silent drug taking too. Another member is the director of the Central Narcotics Bureau of Singapore. And committee chairman, Professor Daniel Shek Tan-lei, is also the school manager of the controversial drug rehab school Christian Zheng Sheng College. You get the idea.



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