Drugs testing

Army reinforces zero-tolerance policy following drugs fail

Four Royal Artillery soldiers face dismissal after positive drugs tests in the same week. The soldiers from 12 Regiment failed the compulsory drugs tests and the Army has confirmed applications for their discharge will be made.

The strict policy of compulsory drug testing is to reinforce the message that drug use is wholly unacceptable and any military personnel who take drugs will be “dealt with accordingly”, say officials. The army tests around 100,000 soldiers every year for drug misuse. Historically, between 1–3% prove positive. In 2016, the Army discharged 650 soldiers.

Positive drugs tests

The Army has recently reinforced its zero-tolerance policy on drug taking after being criticized for allowing soldiers to carry on serving following positive drugs tests. Last year, a chronic shortage of new personnel to the armed forces saw a bend in the rules when it was revealed that new recruits would not be dismissed if they were found to have used drugs within their first 14 weeks of training. Soldiers had also been allowed to continue their service after a positive drugs test in exceptional circumstances.

However, earlier this month it was announced that any soldier caught taking drugs – including those under training – would be discharged and barred from re-enlisting or joining the reserves.

“The misuse of illegal drugs can cause terrible damage to people’s lives and the purchase of them fuels organised crime, both in the UK and across the globe”, said Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary. “The use of such substances is incompatible with military service and has no place in our Armed Forces. A zero-tolerance approach to illegal drugs is the only way to ensure those high standards are maintained across our world-class military.”

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