Defence Secretary confirms scrapping of Army’s zero-tolerance drugs policy

The Government has scrapped the Army’s zero-tolerance drugs policy, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has confirmed.

Speaking at a ConservativeHome fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Wallace told Tory members that he had changed the Army’s zero-tolerance drugs policy as it should be for commanding officers and not the Government to decide to strip an individual of their job.

Mr Wallace’s predecessor Gavin Williamson brought in the policy in November 2018 in an effort to ensure high standards are maintained.

Mr Williamson said drug-taking was incompatible with the armed forces, and that a zero-tolerance approach was the only way to ensure excellence was maintained across the UK’s world-class military.

Mr Wallace suggested young officers who mistakenly took drugs should be offered a second chance.

Mr Wallace said: “I changed it. I took the view that some people are young and irresponsible and it should be up to their commanding officers to decide, whether it’s a young lad or girl who’s made a mistake, whether they should be allowed to remain in the armed forces or not.

“And people who have left and want to rejoin, the same should apply to them as well.

“I think, you know, that doesn’t mean to say you should be able to do drugs in the armed forces.”

When pushed on what limits will be imposed, Mr Wallace added that individuals should be allowed to remain in the Army “if it is appropriate”.

Mr Wallace added: “It should be up to commanding officers to understand their workforce, to understand whether that individual is the problem, or if there’s a medical problem and they think they need help, or whether indeed it was a mistake.”

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