HC Deb 02 April 1987 vol 113 c568W
Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel have deserted in each of the last four years; and in which branch of the armed forces they served.

Mr. Freeman

Statistics for desertion and absence without leave are not easily distinguished, as the difference cannot normally be established until return. The following table therefore gives figures for both desertion and absence without leave from the armed forces (in practice the majority of cases fall into the latter category and arise from short-term domestic or personal problems affecting the individual).

Numbers deserting or going absent without leave: 1983 to 1986
Royal Navy and Royal Marines Army Royal Air Force
1983 149 670 19
1984 110 662 16
1985 117 548 9
1986 100 522 12

Note: The figures show those deserting or being declared absent without leave in each year. The latter occurs after a maximum of seven days absence for the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines arid after 21 days absence for the Army and Royal Air Force.