The Narcotics Division (ND) of the Security Bureau is tasked with coordinating
policies and ways to fight drug abuse, money laundering and terrorism financing.
Overall Strategy and Coordination
The Government adopts a five-pronged approach to fighting drug abuse. The
strategy involves legislation and law enforcement, education and publicity, treatment
and rehabilitation, research, and international cooperation.
The Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) advises the Government on
the formulation of anti-drug strategies. It is a non-statutory body composed of
professionals in the medical, youth service, educational and anti-drug fields. Headed
by a chairman, it has 16 unofficial members and two official members. The officials
are the Commissioner for Narcotics and a representative from the Department of
Health. Under an arrangement between Singapore and Hong Kong, the Director of
Singapore's Central Narcotics Bureau also sits on the committee.
Regular reviews are conducted to see whether amendments or revision to the
existing ordinances are needed to deal with changes in the illicit drugs world.
Treatment and Rehabilitation
Hong Kong provides a variety of treatment and rehabilitation services to help
drug abusers from different backgrounds kick the habit.
The major drug treatment and rehabilitation services include a compulsory drug
treatment programme run by the Correctional Services Department, a voluntary
methadone out-patient treatment programme provided by the Department of Health,
and voluntary residential programmes run by non-governmental organisations
(NGOs). Medical and psychiatric treatment for psychotropic substance abusers is
provided by five substance abuse clinics under the Hospital Authority. In addition, five
Counselling Centres for Psychotropic Substance Abusers operated by NGOs are
subvented by the Social Welfare Department to provide community-based treatment
services to psychotropic substance abusers.
Under the Drug Dependent Persons Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres
(Licensing) Ordinance, centres offering in-house voluntary treatment to four or more
people need to be licensed by the Social Welfare Department to make sure that the
centres meet present-day safety and management requirements. By year-end,
28 Certificates of Exemption were issued to centres that were operating before the
ordinance came into effect, and 11 centres that were already operating with a valid
Following a recommendation in the Third Three-Year Plan on Drug Treatment
and Rehabilitation Services in Hong Kong (2003-05), the ND commissioned the
School of Continuing Education of Baptist University in Hong Kong to provide the
first-ever structured professional certificate course for anti-drug social workers and
peer counsellors. The course ran from February to July 2006 with 68 participants
being given the certificate on completion of the course. A pilot service information
system was also launched in July to gather data for drawing up standards for local
drug treatment services to follow. This is also part of the recommendations made in
the 2003-05 plan.
The Fourth Three-Year Plan on Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Services in
Hong Kong (2006-08) was introduced in March 2006. Its key recommendations
include promoting reintegration of ex-drug abusers into the community and
strengthening cooperation between medical practitioners and NGOs to address the
medical needs of drug abusers and to extend the scope for early intervention.
Preventive Education and Publicity
In 2006, the ND provided 585 anti-drug talks to 79 800 students attending
Primary 4, 5, and 6 schools, secondary level schools and students at the English
Schools Foundation and international schools. This was the first year that anti-drug
talks were given to Primary 4 students. Workshops and seminars were also organised
for teachers, social workers and parents. In 2006, four workshops were held for
teachers and school social workers. Since parents play a vital role in drugs prevention
education, the ND, for the first time, organised two seminars for parents in April and
September 2006 in the Sha Tin Town Hall and Yuen Long Theatre respectively. About
830 parents attended. In collaboration with Hong Kong Commercial Broadcasting Co
Ltd, two radio programmes were broadcast during the period between December
2006 and March 2007 to give parents a better understanding of the drug problem so
that they may communicate more effectively with their children.
A television docu-drama series entitled Anti-Drug Files jointly produced with
RTHK was broadcast in July to increase public awareness of drug issues, including
those occurring on the other side of the boundary. Eighteen NGO projects were
funded under the Sponsorship Scheme on Anti-Cross-boundary Drug Abuse.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Drug InfoCentre continued to serve as a platform
for promoting anti-drug messages. During the year, about 28 200 visitors, comprising
15 900 students, 3 200 members of youth groups, community organisations, and
rehabilitation centres, 300 principals, teachers and school social workers,
1 000 group and 7 800 walk-in visitors, made use of the centre.
Two new TV and radio Announcements in the Public Interest (APIs) were
launched during the Christmas and New Year holidays to remind young people of the
detrimental effects of abusing ketamine and ecstasy, the two drugs commonly used
by young people. Posters were put up in public places and advertisements were
carried on buses to drive home the message that ketamine and ecstasy damage the
brain. The warning was also conveyed through the Short Messaging System (SMS) to
young mobile phone users. Anti-drug TV APIs were broadcast on Kowloon-Canton
Railway trains, buses and the ND website www.nd.gov.hk to reach a wider
Drug Abuse, Statistics and Trends
The statistics compiled on drug abuse trends are based on the Central Registry
of Drug Abuse. The registry collates information on drug abusers through a wide
network of reporting agencies, including law enforcement departments, treatment
and welfare agencies, tertiary institutions, hospitals and clinics.
In 2006, a total of 13 204 drug abusers were recorded in the registry. Of these,
26 per cent were new cases, 19 per cent were aged under 21, and 81 per cent were
males. Heroin remained the most commonly abused drug in Hong Kong, with 62 per
cent of drug abusers in the registry being heroin abusers. The number of psychotropic
substance abusers has increased noticeably over the years and reached 56 per cent in
2006. Psychotropic substances commonly abused included ketamine (23 per cent),
triazolam/midazolam/zopiclone (17 per cent) and ecstasy (12 per cent). About 32 per
cent of drug abusers were reported to have abused more than one drug. Some
11 per cent of drug abusers were reported to have taken drugs on the Mainland
(mostly in Shenzhen); 38 per cent of drug abusers have taken drugs at home or in
their friends' homes only, another 32 per cent at home, friends' homes and other
localities (such as recreation area/public garden/public toilet and disco/karaoke), and
the remaining 30 per cent at other localities. About 64 cent of young people who
abused drugs did it at discos and karaokes.
Findings from drug-related research studies provide useful reference material to
facilitate the Government's formulation of anti-drug strategies and programmes.
Three studies carried forward from previous years — on the harmful effects of cough
mixture abuse; the drug abuse situation among ethnic minorities; and developing a
supplementary drug abuse monitoring system — were completed during the year.
The cough mixture study confirmed that there was a definite association
between cough mixture abuse and folate deficiency. Folate deficiency would in turn
cause severe damage to one's brain and nervous system and may even lead to severe
permanent disabilities. Pregnant mothers who indulged in cough mixture abuse
would cause severe brain damage to the foetus.
Heroin was the most common drug abused by ethnic minorities, followed by
cannabis and cough syrup. The abusers encountered different problems such as
difficulty in handling relationship with family members and in job seeking. Language
training was the most desired service provided to drug abusers to distract them from
their problems, followed by outpatient service, community integration and
The supplementary system drew together drug-related statistics that were
compiled currently and kept by different departments and agencies in Hong Kong.
With the system, policy-makers could more readily identify problems and formulate
corresponding programmes and measures to tackle them.
One ongoing study on meta-analysis of acupuncture therapy in treatment of
heroin dependence was carried over from the previous year. A study on parents'
participation in anti-drug work was launched recently.
International Action and Regional Cooperation
The Government continued to participate actively in international forums against
drug abuse, drug trafficking and money laundering. Apart from fulfilling its
obligations under the three major United Nations (UN) conventions concerning
narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, it also maintains close links with the UN,
the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Criminal Police Organisation
(Interpol), and the World Customs Organisation, to ensure that Hong Kong's anti-drug
and anti-money laundering work remains in step with current international
standards and requirements. The Government keeps in touch with various
jurisdictions to share Hong Kong's experience with them and to foster closer working
ties. The Police Force and Customs and Excise Department have also established
cooperative arrangements with their Mainland and overseas counterparts on
intelligence exchange, joint operations and experience-sharing.
In March, representatives from the Narcotics Division attended the 49th session
of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs held in Vienna, as members of the Chinese
To promote better communication and cooperation among Hong Kong,
Guangdong and Macao in tackling drug abuse and trafficking, tripartite activities in
the form of conference and thematic workshops were organised. In 2006-07 Hong
Kong drew up an exchange programme and formed a forum at which the three
parties discussed and shared their experiences. Guangdong, Macao and Hong Kong
took turns to host a five-day meeting on the exchange programme between
December 2006 and January 2007. Participants met and shared experience with anti-drug
workers from government departments and treatment centres, enhancing their
understanding of the daily operations and underlying philosophies of the
departments and centres concerned. The sharing session-cum-discussion forum was
scheduled for the summer of 2007 in Hong Kong.
The Beat Drugs Fund
To promote community efforts in tackling the drug abuse problem, the
Government established a Beat Drugs Fund in 1996 with a capital outlay of
$350 million. In 2006, a total of $9.8 million were allocated to 18 projects. These
included a programme for teaching parents to get the anti-drug messages across to
their children through story-telling. Another project was funded to assist psychotropic
substance abusers of South Asian origin to seek treatment.
The Anti-drug Volunteer Group comprised 106 members of the public and
91 company representatives in 2006. They participated in 20 anti-drug community
and publicity activities, including district carnivals, visits to treatment and
rehabilitation centres, exhibitions and seminars. During the year, they helped promote
the anti-drug message during a jamboree organised by the Boy Scouts Association of
Hong Kong. The event was attended by 4 000 local and overseas scouts. The group
also organised a football competition in December 2006 to promote healthy living
style and the anti-drug message.
Action Against Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism
As an international financial centre, it is important for Hong Kong to maintain an
effective anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regime. The
Government adopts a five-pronged approach to combating money laundering and
terrorist financing. It includes legislation, law enforcement, regulation by the financial
regulators, publicity and education, and international cooperation.
To fulfil its international obligations under the 1988 United Nations Convention
against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, Hong Kong
enacted the Drug Trafficking (Recovery of Proceeds) Ordinance in 1989 and the
Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance in 1994 which provide for the tracing,
freezing, confiscation and recovery of proceeds from drug trafficking and other
serious crimes. To give effect to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373
and some of the measures stipulated in the Financial Action Task Force on Money
Laundering (FATF) Special Recommendations, the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism
Measures) (Amendment) Ordinance was promulgated in 2004. It provides for, among
other things, the power to freeze the non-fund property of terrorists and terrorist
organisations. In order to fulfil another FATF Special Recommendation, the
Government gazetted an amendment notice in December to amend section 24C(1)
and schedule 6 of the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance to require remittance
agents and money changers to verify customers' identity and to keep records of
transactions of $8,000 or more, instead of the previous threshold of $20,000 or
Since the enactment of the Drug Trafficking (Recovery of Proceeds) Ordinance
and the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance, assets valued at $435 million have
been confiscated and handed to the Government. As at December 31, 2006, assets
amounting to $67 million have been ordered to be confiscated and were pending
recovery. A further sum of $1.41 billion was put on hold pending confiscation
proceedings under the two ordinances.
On education, the ND and the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit co-organised two
seminars in January 2006 for estate agents. In September, they organised a series of
seminars for banks, insurance, securities, trust and company service providers, money
lenders, remittance and money changing companies, precious metals and stones
dealers, and estate agents. The ND set up focus groups in four of these sectors to
discuss issues related to the implementation of the FATF Recommendations. The ND
was also preparing an interactive training kit to assist these sectors in identifying
suspicious transactions. International cooperation is vital in combating transnational
crimes such as money laundering.
Hong Kong participated actively in FATF and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money
Laundering (APG), an FATF-style regional inter-governmental organisation. The
Department of Justice (DoJ) sent a legal expert to take part in the FATF's mutual
evaluation of the UK in November/December 2006. In October, a Customs and Excise
Department (C&ED) officer participated in a study by the FATF Typologies Project
Team on a subject entitled 'Laundering the Proceeds of Missing Trader Intra-Community (MTIC) Carousel Fraud'. Representatives from the Police Force and C&ED
also attended the FATF/Eurasian Group joint typologies meeting in Shanghai in
November. Officers from the Police and C&ED participated in the APG's annual
typologies workshop held in Indonesia in November. Officers from the Police Force
and DoJ took part in the APG mutual evaluation of Sri Lanka in March and Mongolia
in December. In addition, various government departments continued to facilitate the
granting of legal assistance to other jurisdictions in accordance with bilateral
agreements. By year-end, Hong Kong had concluded 21 mutual legal assistance
agreements and 16 surrender-of-fugitive-offenders agreements.