THE ROYAL DRUGOONS
310 troops fail tests but half stay on
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’