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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks