Almost half of all British people support national service for young men, poll finds

Compulsory armed service for 17-21 year-old men finds favour in UK poll, but the same can't be said for putting women on the front line

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The Independent Online

Almost of British people support the reintroduction of national service for young men, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by YouGov, found that 47 per cent of British adults are in favour of reintroducing national service for 17-21 year old males, with 49 per cent believing that conscription would result in reduced crime rates.

However, attitudes to young women having to partake in national service were not as positive. Although 42 per cent of respondents remained in favour of compulsory service, 48 per cent opposed the idea of enlisting women.

Unsurprisingly, the suggestion of healthy males and females aged 17-21 serving in the armed forces for 18 months, and then remaining on the reserve list for four years, received the least backing from 17-24 year olds.


Percentage of British adults are in favour of reintroducing national service for 17-21 year old males

Although only 23 per cent of 17-24 year olds support the proposal for males, 19 per cent for females, these figures rose to 62 and 53 per cent in the 60+ age bracket, despite the fact that no one under 73 would have experienced national service first hand.

In modern times the UK has only legislated for national service twice, from 1916-1920 and 1939-1960, both of which were initiated during times of war.

Of the 1,723 people surveyed by YouGov, only one in four said that they would join the armed forces voluntarily were Britain to join a "war of similar severity to World War II", with just one in ten claiming that they "definitely would".

Statistics, published by the Ministry of Defence, show that there are currently 141,250 trained full time personnel in the UK armed forces, and that 13,880 people joined in the last 12 months

At its peak in 1940 the British Army alone consisted of 1.65 million men, while more than 3.5 million men were enlisted during the Second World War.