§ 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.