Massive increase in number of Danes dodging call-up preliminaries

Perhaps the problem lies with digital post rather than not wishing to serve in the forces

There has been a massive spike in the number of Danes not turning up to the preliminary session to assess whether they are required to serve in the armed forces.

In 2016, this increased by a whopping 143 percent. The fines that result from staying away can run into millions of kroner.

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In 2016, 4,048 people were convicted of breaking the law on doing national service. The year before the number was 1,669, figures from Danmarks Statistik reveal.

Missing the call-up once triggers a fine of 1,000 kroner, the second time a 2,000 kroner fine, and the third time a possible prison sentence.

Even if all those convicted last year were first-time offenders, the outstanding amount is still more than 4 million kroner.

The digital dilemma
Thomas Ilsøe-Mikkelsen, the chief of communications at the Ministry of Defence, claims the dramatic increase coincides with the digitalisation of the call-up process.

“One explanation for the increase could be that a number of young people just don’t read their digital post. This is something that other public-sector institutions have experienced, for example in connection with hospital appointments,” he told Jyllands Posten.

Snail mail to the rescue?
The Ministry of Defence began sending out reminders by ‘snail mail’ in February 2016 when they became aware of the magnitude of the problem.

On top of that, TV campaigns have targeted young people to get them to check their e-boxes. The ministry is working together with the agency for digitalisation to spread the word about digital post.

According to the agency, at the end of February, there were around 522,000 citizens registered between the ages of 18 and 24. Of those, 5.7 percent had received digital post within the last six months that they had not logged in to read.