Campaigners ramp up pressure for minimum army recruitment age of 18
Campaigners and religious groups are increasing pressure on the Ministry of Defence to raise the recruitment age from 16 to 18
Campaigners and religious groups have jointly called for the British army to stop recruiting people under the age of 18 in an open letter to the Ministry of Defence.
All the bishops from the Church in Wales are among a number of co-signatories from the campaign group Child Soldiers International calling for the current recruitment age of 16 to be raised.
The letter, addressed to defence minister Mark Francois said the MoD does not deploy soldiers until the age of 18.
The MoD argues recruitment can be beneficial for young people, who can apply from the age of 15 and seven months, providing there is parental consent.
“It provides them challenging and constructive education, training and employment, equipping them with valuable and transferable skills for life,” a spokesman told the BBC.
Other signatories include the Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, convenor of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, and peace groups run by Christians including Baptists, Methodists, Roman Catholics and Quakers.
The letter said: “Current recruitment policy channels the youngest most disadvantaged recruits into the most dangerous frontline combat roles.
“Those recruited at 16 have faced double the risk of fatality of adult recruits throughout the conflict in Afghanistan.”
“We commend the MoD for having ceased routinely deploying children into conflict, but challenge its failure to stop recruiting them.”
Child Soldiers International said its own analysis of MoD figures showed that last year 880 16-year-olds enlisted in the Army, 40 per cent fewer than the year before - 1,470 - and just a quarter of the 3,600 enlisted a decade earlier.
The fall has been matched by rising drop-out rates, the group claimed.
It added that of all the 16-year-olds recruited by the Army last year, figures recently released showed that nearly half, or 410, left during training.
Richard Clarke, director of Child Soldiers International, highlighted the minimum recruitment and conscription age for joining the army during the first world war as 18, with deployment at 19.
He said: “It's time for the MoD to recognise what more and more young people and their parents are realising - that enlisting at 16 is not in their best interests."
- 1 Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
- 2 Before you complain about your GP, this is what you need to know about actually doing the job
- 4 'Don't blame all men for rape' campaign backfires spectacularly
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
UK's biggest male rape charity Survivors UK has state funding slashed to zero despite 120% rise in men reporting sexual violence and seeking help
Priest warns pupils the 'Charlie Charlie Challenge' is 'demonic activity'
'Don't blame all men for rape' campaign backfires spectacularly
Iran launches anti-Isis cartoon competition 'to expose true nature of Islamic State'
Fifa corruption arrests: Sepp Blatter 'quite relaxed' and confident he is 'not involved'
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A multi-skilled engineer with a...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Engineers for field & bench ser...
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...
£35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global provider of call ce...