Coronavirus: Teens should be given 'resilience' training to support authorities

3 March 2020, 08:02

Teenagers should be given training to help in emergencies
Teenagers should be given training to help in emergencies. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Teenagers should be trained to be called up to support the authorities in civil contingencies like floods or the coronavirus outbreak, a report says

The Government is being urged to provide "resilience" training for teens so they are able to help in the event of local or national emergencies.

The nation's teens represented an "untapped" resource when it came to dealing with emergencies a report by the military thinktank Royal United Services Institute said.

The report called for 16- to 18-year-olds to be offered training during the school holidays in "crisis preparedness" and "emergency response".

They would also be taught "information literacy" so they could help combat "fake news" in the event of a major cyber attack or disinformation campaign.

Participation would be voluntary, although teenagers would be encouraged to take part through the award of additional Ucas points for those aiming for university or tax credits for those entering the jobs market.

The report said experts would be seconded by the Home Office to conduct the training which would be carried out during a three-week course over the summer or two week-and-half courses at other times of the year.

Those who successfully completed the programme - including follow up "refresher" sessions - would enter a command-and-control system connected to the blue-light services, so they could be called up for duty during a crisis.

The report said such a scheme - modelled on similar programmes in a number of Scandinavian countries - would give the Government a capacity to "surge" in an emergency.

"Youth is a resource in national security. It is, however, rarely treated as such. That is a loss," the report said.

"Indeed, with increasing non-kinetic threats against liberal democracies it is vital to involve the wider population in preparedness and crisis response."