Army to scrap zero tolerance on drugs offences as ‘common sense’ decision is praised

Army to scrap zero tolerance on drugs offences as ‘common sense’ decision is praised

- in Uk News

THE Army has reversed former defence Secretary Gavin Williamson’s zero ­tolerance drugs policy for soldiers.

Squaddies testing positive for a banned substance were out under the rules drafted last November, with no prospect of a return.

Soldiers who make drugs’ ‘mistakes’ will get a second chance
Getty Images – Getty
New Defence Minister Ben Wallace is behind the decision to reintroduce the second chance policy
Steve Back

Mr Williamson’s edict replaced a “second chance” policy under which commanders had the discretion to let offenders stay if they showed promise or were in training.

New Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has taken the “common sense” decision to overturn it, we understand.

A memo sent to commands last month confirmed the old policy will be “reinstated”.

It says: “Commanding officers are well placed to judge whether a service person has made an uncharacteristic error of judgement and to assess whether a second chance is appropriate.”

The memo says the Army is “not softening its approach to drug taking” and says drug misuse is incompatible with service life and “erodes operational effectiveness”.

But it adds: “The policy is coherent with our aim of delegating decisions to those best placed to make them and those who know their people best.”

The “blanket ban” on ousted soldiers reapplying to rejoin after a two-year break will also be lifted.

Mr Williamson — axed for allegedly leaking National Security Council secrets — drafted the policy after a series of Army drugs scandals. One commander called him a “buffoon” for introducing it.

A source added: “Lads who did Class As got kicked out under the old policy but what if a really promising soldier at the beginning of his or her career makes a mistake?

“The Army should be about getting second chances and this policy gets us back to where we should be.”

Former Defence Minister Gavin Williamson introduced the zero-tolerance policy
Getty Images – Getty

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