Secretary for Security John Lee said on Wednesday that police can't force officers to undergo drug tests because the law doesn’t allow this, as he endorsed a voluntary approach the force is taking.
Police had set up a new integrity unit last month following the arrests of more than a dozen officers in a matter of weeks for various offences, including the alleged stealing of drugs from a crime scene.
Lee told lawmakers during Legco's question time that police are looking at offering voluntary tests for new recruits and officers who are to be posted to sensitive departments, for example the anti-triad unit.
He added that people should support the mechanism and see later on how it can be improved.
But Civic Party legislator Jeremy Tam said the voluntary testing is meaningless because those who are willing to be tested will be clean.
Tam also said the government can amend the law to make the testing compulsory, saying that people working as either pilots or professional athletes often undergo random drugs testing in Hong Kong and other parts of the world.
"Now, you’re talking about police officers, they have weapons and they have authority to do lots of things, and how can you trust those officers without a proper random check and to ensure that their decisions are not affected by any alcohol and drugs?"
Between 2015 and 2019, six police officers were arrested on drug offences. Three of them were convicted, two were released and one is awaiting trial.