resources: legislation and policy

12 September 2014
12/09/2014

This paper, published by ForcesWatch and Child Soldiers International, shows that the taxpayer would save approximately £50 million per annum if the minimum age of recruitment were raised to 18; it would also result in the army needing to find about 211 fewer new recruits annually, based on current numbers joining the trained strength.

The paper concludes that the case to cease recruiting from age 16 is now overwhelming and urges a full, independent review of the policy, with a view to phasing out the recruitment of minors as an unnecessary, cost-ineffective, and fundamentally unethical practice.

March 2014

ForcesWatch's submission to the Defence Select Committee inquiry on Military Casualties draws on our research published in The Last Ambush and concludes that:

  • The continued targeted recruitment of minors from disadvantaged backgrounds deserves to be re-appraised from the perspective of long-term mental health risks that this group faces. 
  • Where possible, we hope that the development of military health research will better specify personnel who face higher and lower risks.
  • Future research could also better account for personnel who show some symptoms of mental ill-health but are not counted as full ‘cases’ of a specific ‘disorder’. 
  • A large number of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are likely to need mental health support services for years to come.  It falls to the state to take prime responsibility for ensuring that the long-term welfare needs of injured veterans are met.  That is an expensive undertaking, which it behoves any government to appreciate and accept before deciding whether to send young men and women to war
November 2013

The Militarisation in Everyday Life in the UK conference was held in London in October 2013 and was organised by ForcesWatch. It brought together academics, writers, activists and campaigners who are researching, writing, campaigning on, or just concerned about the implications of the militarisation of everyday life in the UK.

The following 12 presentations were made at the conference. Not every presentation was filmed. For details about the conference, the programme, background reading and discussions on the day, see here.

Diana Francis, Looking at everyday militarisation

28 October 2013

This report from ForcesWatch, shows that young soldiers recruited from disadvantaged backgrounds are substantially more likely than other troops to return from war experiencing problems with their mental health. It calls for the policy of recruiting from age 16 to be reviewed so that the greatest burden of risk is not left to the youngest, most vulnerable recruits to shoulder.

Download the full report (PDF 1294kb)

Download the Executive Summary (PDF 268kb)

June 2013

ForcesWatch's submission to the Defence Committee's inquiry Future Army 2020, which recomments an evaluation of the case for an independent review of the minimum age of recruitment into the Army with a view to recruiting only adults (aged 18 and above) in the future, looking at five reasons why the time is right for this.

Dec 2011

Facts and figures about the UK armed forces including information on number of personnel, military spending, recruitment, terms of service, conscientious objection, job satisfaction, and risk of death, serious harm and pychiatric harm. All references are fully sourced.

November 2011

Published by the Quaker United Nations Office in November 2011, this short booklet reflects recent changes in international law and practice that indicates that recognition of conscientious objection to military service as a human right is now stronger than ever. The publication in available in English, French or Spanish.

June 2011

New legislation (from 22 July 2011) which grants under 18s the right to leave after a 'cooling off' period. Prior to this, discharge of 'unhappy minors' was at the discretion of the commanding officer.

This right is additional to an individual's Discharge As Of Right (DAOR) between the 2nd and 6th month of starting service.

Under 18s in all branches of the forces may now give 3 months' notice to leave (i.e. leave the regular service and join the Reserves) if they give notice in writing to their commanding officer any time before their 18th birthday. By mutual consent the 3 months' notice may be reduced. 

The recruit can change their mind about leaving if they do so within the notice period and they can still give notice later on.

Additionally, the legislation also allows adults the possibility of having their 12 month notice period reduced by up to 6 months as long as it is done within one month of notice being given. This is at the discretion of the commanding officer.

February 2011

ForcesWatch's submission to the Armed Forces Bill committee raising concerns relating to the human rights of service personnel with the Armed Forces Bill Committee and making a number of recommendations to bring the UK into line with current international standards and improve terms of service.