Suspected drug-users to face tests

By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-24 07:21

People suspected of taking drugs at entertainment venues in Beijing's Dongcheng District will be required to take compulsory urine tests starting on Wednesday, according to local media reports.

People who fail the tests will be taken into police custody or required to receive treatment for drug abuse, the Beijing Youth Daily reported Thursday.

The move marks the first time that Beijing police have resorted to compulsory urine tests to identify possible drug suspects. In the past, the police restricted the tests to people working at such places.

The report said karaoke bars, discos and nightclubs would be required to immediately inform the police if one of their patrons appeared to be under the influence of an illegal drug. Any entertainment businesses found to have permitted the use of drugs on their premises will be temporarily shut down.

More than 50 entertainment venues in Dongcheng District have been equipped with testing kits to help identify the presence of drugs like ecstasy, ketamine and ice, which are popular with some club-goers, said a police official surnamed Zhang from the district's drug prohibition team.

"The results are available in less than one minute," Zhang was quoted as saying.

On Wednesday evening, the team went to the Eastern Gold Cabinet KTV to publicize the police's drug prevention efforts.

One customer asked whether the new policy would affect the rights of normal customers or otherwise be subject to abuse. In response, police said they would administer urine tests only when there was substantial evidence suggesting that someone had taken an illegal drug.

For example, customers found with needles or showing clear symptoms of drug abuse, such as constant head-shaking, would be considered appropriate targets for testing, said police.

Zhou Lei, an anti-drug police official from the Beijing Public Security Bureau, told China Daily yesterday that as far as he knew, there was no immediate plan to promote the practice city-wide.

Staff working at entertainment venues in Dongcheng will also take part in a 15-day anti-drug training programme, according to the Beijing Youth Daily report.

Earlier this year, the city police bureau held similar training seminars for hundreds of owners and managers of entertainment venues across the city.

Fu Zhenghua, the bureau's deputy director, said the goal of such efforts was to ensure that entertainment venues in Beijing are drug-free by the end of this year. All public areas are to be free of drugs by the end of 2008, he added.

"Almost all cases that involve the use of new drugs, such as ecstasy and ketamine" take place at entertainment venues, he said.

Meanwhile, Beijing is also stepping up the monitoring of Internet cafes by requiring them to install cameras that can be connected to the local police. Internet cafes will join a list of entertainment venues, including KTV bars and discos, that are monitored by police to ensure public security.

According to the city's 11th Five-Year Plan on Informatization, which was released on Wednesday, all Internet cafes in the city are to be equipped with such cameras by the year-end.

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