Children's commissioner: 'Raise army enlistment age'

Children's Commissioner for Wales, Prof Sally Holland

The children's commissioner for Wales has joined calls to raise the armed forces enlistment age to 18.

Sally Holland co-signed a letter to Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt with the commissioners for Scotland and Northern Ireland and the charity Child Soldiers International.

It said recruiting under 18s was "detrimental to their best interests".

The Ministry of Defence said the armed forces provided "challenging and constructive education".

'Premature enlistment'

The letter said: "Most of the world now recognises that the recruitment of children for military purposes is detrimental to their best interests and is not appropriate in modern armed forces.

"In British society, the law safeguards children by proscribing choices that entail significant risks until they turn 18, the legal age of majority.

"It is therefore incongruous that the British armed forces still enlist personnel at age 16 and accept applications from age 15.

"Premature enlistment can also bring significant risk and disadvantage."

'Valuable skills'

A spokesman for the MoD said no one under 18 can join without formal written consent of their parent or guardian and are not deployed on operations before they are 18.

"We take pride in the fact our armed forces provide challenging and constructive education, training, and employment opportunities for young people, equipping them with valuable skills," the spokesman added.

Concerns have previously been raised in Wales about how many visits army officers make to schools in deprived areas.

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