GOVERNOR Chris Patten pays unannounced visits to problem housing areas - sometimes calling on unsuspecting residents - to get a fix on issues affecting the poorest communities. To avoid publicity, he is whisked to 'blackspots' in a minibus, rather than his chauffeur-driven Daimler. And officials are kept in the dark so he can get a warts-and-all impression. Details of the visits were confirmed to the Sunday Morning Post after Mr Patten said he had seen for himself drug dens in public housing estates. 'I have seen, on stairways in some housing blocks, places where money is slipped in order to acquire the drugs and where the drugs are subsequently put by the dealers,' he said last week. The Government House spokesman, Kerry McGlynn, yesterday said Mr Patten made several low-key visits a year. Usually only one district officer was tipped off, but on occasions Mr Patten had turned up completely unannounced with his security staff. 'The Governor likes to keep the visits as incognito as possible,' Mr McGlynn said. 'He does knock on doors and people tend to reel back at first, but they are never shy about discussing their problems with him. It often results in a useful hurrying up of government machinery. 'Obviously he's recognised by residents when he shows up at some housing estates. But people tend to be more relaxed without all the other officials present and maybe they are more up front about what's troubling them.'