Honesty key to drug tests

Winnie Chong

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The accuracy of urine tests conducted on released drug addicts will still depend on the honesty of individual officers, the Correctional Services Department admitted yesterday.

Its comments follow the end of a court case in which Tang Kwai-man, 47, and Leung Siu-wing, 53 admitted swapping urine samples with addicts.

Both officers, who worked at Hei Ling Chau Addiction Treatment Centre, will be sentenced on Thursday.

Department assistant commissioner Lam Kwok-leung said currently an officer, not connected to a test center, is assigned to check the samples taken by another officer from the center involved.

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Lam said officers are issued with spare containers and may keep samples overnight if these are collected late in the day.

“It all depends on their ethics. The officers should know what is illegal or unethical."

The department said once urine samples are submitted to the laboratory, it is impossible to fake the results because the entire process is computerized.

Any positive test results are then sent to supervising officials and the head office.

The department computerized its urine-testing procedures in December 2008.

From January last year, the department also began using sealed containers that are opened only before a sample is collected. It refused to comment on whether there remains a loophole in the collection process.

Both Tang and Leung admitted misconduct in public office.

They told Eastern Magistrates’ Court they were abiding by an “unwritten rule" – including the switching of samples – to boost the success rate of rehabilitated drug addicts.

There was a sharp rise in the number of rehabilitated addicts failing drug tests once the officers were arrested.

Also, the number of released addicts who returned to drugs increased from 17 cases at the end of 2009 to 155 cases at the end of April 2010.

 

 

 

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