The number of young Hongkongers aged 10 to 15 arrested on suspicion of drug offences in 2021 rose by more than 50 per cent when compared with the previous year’s figure. Security authorities noted that drug-related social media posts have “substantially increased,” as well.

Drugs. File photo: Innocent Coppieters, via Flickr.

In 2021, Hong Kong authorities arrested a total of 678 people who were under the age of 21 for suspected drug-related crimes, the Security Bureau revealed on Wednesday in a written response to questions posed by lawmaker Reverend Peter Koon.

Of those, 116 were aged 15 and under, marking a a 52.6 per cent increase from the 76 people in that age bracket in 2020. Between 2017 and 2019, the number of 15-and-unders apprehended on drug allegations did not exceed 40.

Those arrested for drug offences aged 16 to 20 also more than doubled, from 222 in 2019 to 562 in 2021.

Lawmaker Peter Douglas Koon. File photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

The Security Bureau said there had been a substantial increase in drug-related social media posts and their reach in recent years, some of which “encourage drug use, provide inaccurate information on drugs or are suspected to be related to drug dealing.”

To try and combat this, the bureau said its Narcotics Division has promoted anti-drug messages on its Facebook and Instagram pages. It has also conducted regular online patrols and written to major social media companies, calling for them to stop drug transactions or the flow of illegal information on their platforms.

In addition, it said the police had launching a citywide “Anti-drugs Campaign” from September to November to highlight the harm caused by drugs and drug trafficking. The force also produced a series of anti-drug short films and animations “that appeals to the young people.”

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.