Skip to main content

Armed Forces: Recruitment

Volume 699: debated on Tuesday 19 February 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

At what age young persons can be recruited to the Armed Forces in the United Kingdom; and how this compares with the rest of Europe. [HL1845]

The minimum age of entry into the UK Armed Forces is the school-leaving age of 16 years; recruitment is totally voluntary. The services provide challenging and constructive education, training and employment to many young people and provide them with valuable transferable skills. In the financial year 2006-07, 30 per cent of all new recruits were under 18 years of age.

Across European Armed Forces the minimum recruiting age varies, with the lowest outside the UK being 17 years of age at last birthday.

No young person, under the age of 18 years, may join the UK Armed Forces unless their application is accompanied by the formal written consent of his or her parents or guardian. Throughout the recruit selection process, the staffs at the Armed Forces Careers Offices provide comprehensive written and verbal guidance to all potential recruits, in particular those of less than 18 years of age, and their parents or guardians. This guidance covers the potential recruit's terms and conditions of service, the commitments that they would be undertaking, and their rights to discharge.

It is defence policy that service personnel under the age of 18 are not deployed on any operation, outside of the UK, which would result in them becoming engaged in, or exposed to, hostilities. In addition, in line with UN policy, service personnel under 18 are not deployed on UN peacekeeping operations.