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Bring Back National Service For Criminals

Judges should give the option of National Service or prison.

National Service in the UK ended in 1963. It ended because the bolstering of the Armed Forces that it provided was no longer required as Britain and other powers entered the Cold War period.

Crime is consistently rising in the UK and the Armed Forces have recently struggled to attract new recruits. It therefore seems fitting to sentence young offenders between 18-24 years of age to National Service for non-violent crimes as an alternative to time in prison.

A survey conducted by YouGov in 2016 found that 47 percent of British adults are in favour of reintroducing National Service for 17-21-year-old males, with 49 per cent believing that this would result in reduced crime rates.

However, the percentage would presumably be much higher if applied to criminals and would not be mandatory for everyone, as this is a fair and reasonable alternative to prison.

This would reduce the number of re-offenders. In England and Wales, around 45% of all prisoners will re-offend within a year of release. National Service would teach them discipline and new skills for the future, whilst giving them a purpose and sense of belonging. It would give young offenders an insight into what the armed forces, security agencies and emergency services actually do, and inspire patriotism and social cohesion.

Credit: Defence Images Photographer: Cpl Mike O’Neill LBIPP
Image 45154498.jpg from www.defenceimages.mod.uk Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

For these reasons, it would be more beneficial for the nation as a whole and the individuals involved. Criminal judges should be able to sentence offenders to National Service as they see fit, given that our prison system does not rehabilitate anyone anymore, nor does it deter people from committing crimes.

National Service cannot and should not be an option for violent crimes, in which a victim is harmed by or threatened with violence. The sentence for rape and sexual assault, robbery, throwing corrosive substances (acid attacks), murder/manslaughter and terrorist offences, for example, should continue to be prison.

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