Police have begun an investigation into the use of hydrogen peroxide by Church of Zion followers at the request of the Health Department. At a meeting with Democratic Party members yesterday, Deputy Director of Health Dr Lam Ping-yan said the department had asked for police assistance in handling the case. Officers are now gathering evidence to see if the group can be charged for violating the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance, which requires vendors to label bottles 'poison' and 'for external use only' where appropriate. Any evidence will be passed to the Legal Department. Parents who give their children hydrogen peroxide risk having them taken into custody. Making children drink the chemical might be considered child abuse, Social Welfare Department spokesman Liu Chun-keung said. The department will begin proceedings and invoke protection orders under the Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance if enough evidence is found, he added. Parents who force children to take the chemical might also be committing an offence under the Offences Against the Person Ordinance, which legislates against anyone exposing children to unnecessary suffering or injury. Health officials have promised to tighten controls and inspection of the sales of the chemical. But Dr Lam admitted it would be impossible to increase the 16-strong inspection team. A 24-hour hotline has been set up for information on children taking hydrogen peroxide. The number is 2343-2255.