Soldiers failing drug tests on foreign deployments

The equivalent of a battalion of soldiers have failed drug tests on a foreign deployment during the past five years, the BBC has found.

The number failing had risen from 80 in 2012-13 to 110 in 2016-17, a BBC freedom of information request revealed.

The failure rate has more than doubled from one in 240 to one in 110, but the number of soldiers deployed has fallen.

A total of 470 soldiers failed drug tests from 2012-13 to 2016-17.

The Army says it has increased the number of soldiers being tested, and has a zero tolerance policy to drug test failures. According to the organisation, soldiers testing positive on non-combat overseas deployments, such as in Canada would usually be kept in the country until their dismissal was complete, while those that failed tests on combat deployment are usually returned to the UK.

Experts say high frequencies of deployments to countries where drugs are more accessible to soldiers could explain some of the rise.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “Drug misuse is not tolerated in the armed forces.

"It reduces operational effectiveness, and soldiers caught taking drugs can expect to be discharged.

"By conducting over 87,000 tests per year, drug misuse is significantly less prevalent among service personnel than in corresponding civilian demographic groups.”

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