Voluntary drug tests for HK police officers working in sensitive units

24-Oct-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong police officers in sensitive units, such as the anti-triad squad and narcotics bureau, will be asked to undergo voluntary drug tests from next week as a newly established team has stepped up supervision.

Officers said the plan aimed to boost the public’s confidence in the 31,000-member force and plug loopholes for officers who might have integrity issues. More than 20 police top brass have already taken the tests and were all cleared.

“The number of officers who broke the law only accounts for a very tiny portion of the force, but they put the hard work of others in vain and crash public confidence in the force,” Superintendent Lau Chi-chung of the Integrity Audit Action Group said on Thursday.

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“We don’t see a drugs-use trend among our officers. But we hope to show the society that our integrity meets a very high standard.”

Officers from anti-triad units, special duties squads and the narcotics bureau will be eligible to voluntarily take part in the screening through urine samples, which will cover commonly abused drugs such as ice, cocaine and ketamine.

If an officer returned a positive result, Lau said the group would pass the test sample to a government laboratory for further examination, while the officer’s supervisors would also look at factors such as whether he was on any routine medication or whether he visited any crime scene involving drugs that could alter the results.

Lau added the group would handle each case differently, but in the worst scenario, an officer would face criminal investigation and suspension from work.

Responding to a question why the test had not been made compulsory, Lau said the force had to consider the legal grounds and the privacy issue.

“It is not a disciplinary issue if an officer does not want to take the test. But in such a case, we will notify his supervisors, hoping to understand why he does not want to undergo such a test,” Lau said.

The force’s integrity came under the spotlight after 18 officers were arrested for various offences within three weeks in April, prompting the police chief to set up the supervisory unit in late May. The alleged crimes included possession of drugs that may have been stolen from a crime scene and perverting the course of justice.

In the first half of this year, 26 police officers were arrested, compared to 24 over all of last year.

The new unit which has 15 members and is headed by an assistant commissioner has been tasked to act on complaints or intelligence to investigate disciplinary offences, as well as select specific units within the force to audit their operations and administration. The team has so far been looking into six disciplinary cases.

Lau said officers of the ranks of chief inspectors to senior superintendents needed to declare their financial status if they wanted to undergo screening for a promotion. In future, the group also will also look into financial vetting, extending the scheme to sergeants and station sergeants.



Category: Hong Kong

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