NZ Defence Force denies drug problem

(Facebook / NZ Defence Force)
(Facebook / NZ Defence Force)

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is refuting claims it suffers from a drug problem.

The denial comes after the release of data to Newshub that shows that the NZDF has conducted 31 summary trials relating to the sale or use of drugs among personnel, from December 2014 to February this year.

That's an average of two trials every month, with 28 of the trials returning a verdict of guilty and 21 personnel now having left the NZDF altogether.

"Any incident is of concern; one, two, three or four a month -- it makes no difference. We have sent very clear messaging around the use of drugs, and that messaging has been reinforced from about July of last year," says Chief of Army Major General Peter Kelly.

NZ Defence Force denies drug problem

However, Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell says a hard line isn't likely to alleviate the problem.

 "There is a risk in having that very staunch, zero tolerant message being sent out there, that if there is a young person in the Defence Force who has a problem, are they going to be afraid to seek help?"

Last month Private Luke Brame was dismissed from the force for supplying a group of his colleagues with the dangerous synthetic drug N- Bomb.

The group of men had to be physically restrained after taking the substance, in order to stop them from harming themselves.

A number of the other men involved were also dismissed following the incident.

"I wouldn't say it's a problem in a huge sense, the majority of our people are fantastic role models and live the values of our organisation, and they abide by the rules”, Major General Kelly said.

Ross Bell believes drugs will likely always be within the NZDF given the age of most of the people who enrol.

"If you look at the age most people go into the Defence Force, they’re attracting people between the ages of 18 and 25 -- and that’s the age where a lot of experimentation is going to happen," Mr Bell said.

Newshub.

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