This report highlights seven recommendations from the Defence Committee’s report Duty of Care: Third Report of Session 2004-05 which have not been partially or fully implemented, and around which substantial concerns remain.
This report goes on to present additional evidence and arguments about the experience of the youngest recruits including:
- Lower educational standards within the armed forces.
- Evidence that the youngest recruits are subject to higher physical and mental health risks, than older recruits, including self-harm and bullying; and have poorer long-term outcomes.
- Understanding that adolescence is a period of on-going maturation and vulnerability, and how the practices and process by which young people are recruited into the armed forces are likely to have ill effects.
This report then discusses the concept of 'in loco parentis' and 'moral obligation' with regard to the army's duty of care towards young recruits, noting that the Defence Committee were concerned in 2005 that the MoD distinguished too rigidly between legal and moral obligations, with the latter as less important.
In 2005, the Defence Committee discussed the lack of balance beween training needs and considerations for operational effectiveness, and thus made its recommendations. Ten years on, it is apparent that operational arguments, and current difficulties meeting recruiting targets, continue to prevent the armed forces from reviewing both their position on enlisting under-18s, and their recruitment practices and materials.
Raising the age of recruitment would prioritise the best interest of young people recruited in the armed forces, who would benefit from recruits who are more mature and do not need additional duty of care requirments.