310 troops fail tests but half stay on

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - News - EX­CLU­SIVE BY SEAN RAYMENT scoops@sun­daymir­

NEARLY half of all troops who failed drug tests have been al­lowed to sol­dier on in­stead of be­ing booted out, new fig­ures re­veal.

Some 310 Ser­vice per­son­nel tested pos­i­tive for il­le­gal drugs in the first six months of this year.

But only 170 were au­to­mat­i­cally dis­missed while the oth­ers got a sec­ond chance – a sign that chiefs are soft­en­ing their “zero tol­er­ance” pol­icy as they ac­cept that sub­stance use is now part of ev­ery­day life. Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest fig­ures show 200 troops tested pos­i­tive for co­caine, 80 for cannabis, 20 for ec­stasy and 10 for steroids.

A se­nior of­fi­cer said: “Ten years ago there was a strict zero tol­er­ance pol­icy but that is no longer the case. Many per­son­nel are given sec­ond chances, es­pe­cially if they are of a ju­nior rank. Drugs is a prob­lem in so­ci­ety and it has be­come a prob­lem in the Armed Forces.”

The news fol­lows a ma­jor scan­dal in which the Royal Navy kicked out nine sailors from the nu­clear sub­ma­rine HMS Vig­i­lant who tested pos­i­tive for co­caine.

Sep­a­rate fig­ures have also shown the num­ber of sol­diers test­ing pos­i­tive in 2016 was the high­est for seven years. In 2012, when the Army was 102,000 strong, 530 failed tests. Last year, with a strength of 82,000, the fig­ure was al­most 800.

Last week it emerged that, for the first time, Army re­cruits caught tak­ing drugs in ba­sic train­ing may be able to stay on.

The MoD said per­son­nel could still ex­pect to be dis­charged over drugs but might get a re­prieve if they had made an “un­char­ac­ter­is­tic mis­take”.


Pol­icy is ‘soft­en­ing’

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