One in 20 gardaí will undergo random, annual drug testing as part of a new drive against substance abuse within the force.

In June, it was announced that a newly formed Anti-Corruption Unit, which comprises 26 gardaí, will focus its efforts on drug use within the Garda as well as issues around professional boundaries.

Last month, Assistant Commissioner Pat Clavin said: “We know of instances where we’ve had some of our people recreationally using drugs, so I would be concerned about the level of drug-taking in Irish society in general, and as I say, our people come from Irish society.”

The new testing programme is expected to begin towards the end of 2021, at an estimated cost of €150,000 per year.

Led by An Garda Síochána’s anti-corruption unit, the new programme will see around 116 drug testing operations take place each year. These will include 400 tests on trainee gardaí and 600 pre-employment tests on those applying for positions within the force.

Around 900 random drug tests are expected to be carried out on serving gardaí and civilian staff every year. Testing on serving staff will happen on approximately 40 occasions throughout the year, at locations to be selected by the Garda Anti-Corruption unit on a random basis.

Along with random drug testing, targeted drug tests will also be carried out on gardaí who have previously tested positive for illegal substances.

Others who may be subject to targeted testing include those involved in critical roles within the Garda, and those who are being promoted to a new position.

Targeted testing will also be carried out in the event of incidents such as vehicle crashes, or those involving firearms.

Initially, the tests will look for the use of cannabis, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and other opiates, benzodiazepines, and ketamine. Other drugs may also be tested for at short notice.

Any member of the Garda who tests positive for drugs is likely to face disciplinary proceedings, including dismissal.

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