The number of registered young drug abusers fell by nearly 30 per cent last year, with officials attributing the drop to government and community efforts. Commissioner for Narcotics Rosanna Ure Lui Hang-sai reported the downward trend at the regular meeting of the Action Committee Against Narcotics yesterday, but some social workers said their frontline experience suggested the problem was not diminishing. The number of drug abusers under 21 registered with the Central Registry of Drug Abuse by frontline workers such as police and social workers fell to 2,130 last year from 3,000 in 2002. The number of newly reported drug abusers in the same age group dropped about 25 per cent to 1,629 last year. The overall number of drug abusers dropped year on year by 13 per cent to 15,605 last year, while the total number of new cases fell by about 18 per cent to 4,303. The most commonly abused drug in all age groups was heroin, while those commonly abused by people under 21 were ketamine, Ecstasy and cannabis. The number of ketamine abusers under 21 fell 37 per cent from 1,755 in 2002 to 1,099 last year. Mrs Ure said young people would continue to be one of the main targets of the government's anti-drug campaign. She said education would focus on the misconception that psychotropic substances were not addictive and less harmful than other drugs. But Lee Tak-wai, leader of Hong Kong Playground Association's Yau Tsim Mong District Youth Outreach social work team, attributed the drop to the major restructuring of youth outreach services that began in September 2002. This resulted in the transfer of cases between voluntary agencies. She believed this may have meant some of the cases might not have been reported to the central registry. It is understood the police have also said there has not been a drop in ketamine supplies on the market, an indicator suggesting demand has not shrunk. But Ms Lee said more frequent police raids at entertainment premises such as discos had helped deter young people from experimenting with drugs. Her agency started offering medical checkups for young abusers in 2002 to show them the harmful effects of drugs. This proved more effective than talks, she said.