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Please note this policy is currently under review and a new policy will be launched and communicated to members during Spring 2024.

All safeguarding concerns must be reported directly to the UK HQ Safeguarding Team in line with the new Yellow Card (1 January 2024 version 8). There is further information on how to report a safeguarding concern on the website.

Scout Values

In line with its values, The Scouts recognises its responsibility to deal fairly, constructively and consistently with expressions of concern or dissatisfaction from members and nonmembers, including parents and carers on behalf of themselves or their children.

As Scouts we’re guided by the values of integrity, respect, care, belief and co-operation. When applying this policy, these values should be at the forefront of every interaction and decision that’s made, and all involved should be regularly reminded of them.

Focusing on the values of respect and care, the wellbeing and mental health of all involved when dealing with an expression of concern or dissatisfaction should be considered throughout. Find out more on our Mental Health webpage.

It’s the policy of The Scout Association to safeguard the welfare of those members aged under 18 as well as adults at risk by protecting them from neglect and from physical, sexual and emotional harm.  The Safeguarding Policy is for everyone in The Scouts and includes all volunteers and staff. ​ The Yellow Card sets out a Code of Practice, which is essential for all adults in Scouts to follow. ​Where there are concerns that an adult volunteer or staff member has not followed the code of practice or procedures, the matter must be reported to the Safeguarding team who will co-ordinate any investigation in partnership with the appropriate commissioner.  ​

The new Safeguarding policy underpins everything The Scouts do to develop skills for life. It offers guidance for anyone who has a concern about the welfare of a young person or adult at risk, and how to report a safeguarding allegation or disclosure.

It includes new areas about adults at risk, and pre-existing relationships.

Guidance is provided around how to support adults at risk, our responsibilities, reasonable adjustments to make and how to raise concerns.

It provides the particular circumstances where a pre-existing relationship will be permitted between someone taking on a leadership role at the age of 18 who is already in an existing relationship with a young person in Scouting who is under 18 and a framework to be followed. 

The new policy also covers the various types of abuse and exploitation a young person or adult at risk may suffer or be at risk of harm from, including self-harm or self-neglect, addiction, exploitation and harmful traditional practices.

The policy also refers to specialist areas that may need to be managed using the safeguarding processes, and where further support can be provided – such as mental wellbeing, radicalisation and transitioning.

The Scouts understand that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and it is embedded across our organisation. 

We recognise that the welfare of children, young people and adults at risk is paramount and that all children, young people and adults at risk, regardless of age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity, marriage/civil partnership, race, religion and/or sexual orientation (all defined as protected characteristics within the Equality Act 2010) have the right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse. Working in partnership with children, young people, adults at risk and their family, support network, volunteers and staff is essential in promoting and embedding this policy. This is a national policy and subject to the laws and guidance of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; it’s also in-line with the Local Safeguarding Partnerships in England, Wales (previously LSCB) and Scottish and Northern Ireland counterparts.

In The Scouts, we use the definition of young person, but this policy and its procedures reflect statutory safeguarding legislation which utilises the terminology children and young people. We define children and young people as anyone that is under 18. National variations are defined in Appendix B.

We define an adult at risk as a person aged 18 or over who:

  • Needs care and support, and/or
  • Is unable to protect their own wellbeing because of their care and support needs; or
  • Is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse, neglect or exploitation

(For a more detailed definition see Sec.5/Appendix A)

This policy addresses the transition period from young person to adult, and reference will be made to people aged 17.5 years as this is defined in statutory legislation. We recognise that adults at risk may have additional and/or complex needs. In certain circumstances, they can be particularly vulnerable to abuse.

This policy sets out our commitment to;

  • Take reasonable and appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the welfare of adults at risk whilst in our care; and
  • Make reasonable adjustments with regard to additional and complex needs.

Someone can have complex needs because of learning or physical disabilities, autism, mental health, acquired brain injury or dementia. This can also be combined with physical health needs, such as epilepsy or sensory issues. Additional needs are when an individual has a difficulty, whether physical, emotional, behavioural, learning disability or impairment which causes them to require additional or specialized services or accommodation, including educational or recreational.

If any adult is unable to understand and/or uphold the safeguarding policy and the Code of Practice set out on the ‘Yellow Card’ or is unable to safeguard children or young people, then they cannot be considered for adult appointments.

The policy underpins every aspect of the work and service The Scouts deliver to develop skills for life. The Scouts acknowledge their responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of all young people and adults who participate or volunteer within the organisation. The Scouts, volunteers, staff and trustees are committed to safeguarding and making it integral to all the work that’s completed by them. We’re committed to making sure all our activities and engagement within the wider community are held to the highest standards of safeguarding practice, are compliant with current legislation, and are fully accountable to the Charity Commission. These standards are set out within our policies and procedures outlined within Policy, Organisation and Rules (POR).

We’re invested in making sure our safeguarding practice places the importance of the individual at the centre of our policy planning and implementation processes. This approach makes sure that the welfare of young people and adults at risk remains paramount in all we do. Establishing a culture of honesty and openness helps us to recognise issues that impact on people or that an individual may consider likely to impact on them or their safety. This is particularly important when working with diverse communities or those who have additional and complex needs, to make sure that Scouts continually learns and adapts their practice. Although young people and adults at risk can experience the same types of harm and the causes are often similar, adults at risk have a right to make a choice in regards to The Scouts’ actions. Where a child has suffered or is at risk of suffering significant harm, statutory agencies will be informed, whether the parents/carers are in agreement or not. Sometimes adults at risk may not wish for statutory agencies to be informed. Therefore concerns in regards to adults at risk that reach the safeguarding threshold for reporting must be referred into the Safeguarding team, and they’ll assess the concern, liaise and take appropriate action.

The Safeguarding policy is for everyone engaged within The Scouts and includes all volunteers and staff. This policy offers guidance for anyone who has a concern or disclosure about the welfare of young person or adult at risk, or who wishes to make a safeguarding allegation or referral in regards to a volunteer or staff member, child or young person. The Scouts understands that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and is embedded across our organisation.

The Scouts’ Safeguarding policy makes sure that all volunteers and staff have a clear understanding about their safeguarding responsibility within The Scouts, in terms of recognising, responding to and referring any reported allegations or concerns, in accordance with the safeguarding process. This policy will also make sure that everyone’s clear about their responsibility to follow the correct procedures laid out to protect young people and adults at risk from harm, and to create a safe space for individuals to have fun, be challenged, and develop skills for life and offer a safe space for them to engage with Scouting.

A volunteer is an adult who gives their time freely for the benefit of The Scouts and within the definitions of this policy, includes any leader, manager, supporter, Scout Network Member, associate member, member of an Executive Committee or Trustee.

Staff includes any employee of The Scouts, contractors, consultants and agency workers or any person in paid employment for the organisation.

This policy applies to those who hold a volunteer and/or staff role and who raise a safeguarding concern in either capacity.

Guidance on safeguarding young people

It’s the responsibility of all adults to make sure that their behaviour’s appropriate at all times as laid out in the code of practice, ‘Young People First’ (Yellow Card).

The Yellow Card sets out a Code of Practice which is essential for all adults in The Scouts to follow. Where there are concerns that an adult volunteer or staff member has not followed the code of practice or procedures, the matter must be reported to the Safeguarding team who’ll co-ordinate any investigation. The Safeguarding team, in collaboration with the appropriate commissioner, may suspend an adult’s role/s while an investigation takes place.

  • Observing the rules established for the safety and security of children and young people through processes, procedures and guidance provided, promoting and prioritising their safety and wellbeing.
  • Following the procedures on receipt of any allegations, or concerns raised.
  • Recognising the position of trust in which individuals have been placed.
  • Making sure that all children and young people, and specifically those who are vulnerable, are kept safe from harm while involved in any event or activities.
  • Working in partnership with statutory safeguarding agencies and other organisations. The Scouts will refer an adult volunteer or staff member to a statutory agency if we have significant concerns about their suitability to work with children and young people, or if we have to exclude them from the organisation in line with the ‘working together to safeguard children’ guidance or the relevant national legislation.
  • When necessary, sharing information with other organisations about individuals or an incident, even when there’s no concern about abuse or harm. If this happens, The Scouts will only share information with the explicit consent of the individuals concerned or if there’s a duty to refer.
  • Engaging with statutory agencies. Sometimes The Scouts will need to refer matters without the consent of the child and parent/carer. This is done in circumstances where a statutory agency requests we do so because they’re undertaking a wider investigation or where there may be concerns that a child may be harmed if the parent/carer is informed. In all cases, the relevant legislation pertinent to where the young person lives or the location of any alleged offence informs The Scouts’ action.
    • ‘Wales’ safeguarding procedures are not statutory guidance, but good practice. The Scouts’ current ‘duty to report’, set out in the Yellow Card, discharges an individual’s expectation to report.
  • Taking all measures to strengthen and improve our practice. Our practice is subject to a regular cycle of review and we’ll communicate this through a robust and comprehensive training package and updates, which all members must keep up to date with.
  • Understanding that some people may not report abuse endured at the time it occurred, especially if the abuse happened while they were a child. We’d encourage anyone who feels they have an allegation or a concern from the past to come forward and talk directly to the Safeguarding team. All conversations will be dealt with sensitively and only shared to ensure the on-going safety of children. Sometimes we may report to statutory or other appropriate agencies if a child may be currently at harm or if a crime’s been committed. This will be fully explained to the individual and the Safeguarding team will offer support throughout the process. 

Safeguarding practice isn’t just about having a child protection process, but a way of working that’s embedded in everything The Scouts do and the way that we do it. As such, all volunteers and staff must make sure the following happens, whatever part of the organisation they work in:

  • That all children, young people and parents/carers have all the information they need to make an informed decision before choosing whether to participate in activities, events, trips and overseas visits.
  • That ALL electronic communication between adults and young people follows strict guidelines so that we don’t place anyone at risk of harm. There must be no individual electronic/social media communication between an adult and a young person. All such communication should be within a group, age appropriate and with more than one adult engaged within the communication. (See our digital safeguarding guidance for further details.)
  • That we encourage volunteers and staff to discuss their concerns with their line manager or make contact with the safeguarding team.
  • That children and young people have access to adults that they trust and are clear on how to report their concerns.
  • That young leaders are regarded as young people under the terms of this policy and managed accordingly. Any young person in a leadership role must have full understanding of and be able to uphold their responsibilities highlighted within the Orange Card and have the capacity to understand the information.
  • That all adults working with children must familiarise themselves with all of The Scouts’ safeguarding, safety and associated policies and procedures, which are updated when required.
  • Adults must not consume alcohol when they’re directly responsible for young people on a Scouts activity and must not permit young people (aged under 18 years) to purchase or consume alcohol. Drinking alcohol can put adults in a compromising position regarding their responsibilities for safeguarding and their duty of care. Anyone drinking alcohol when ‘off duty’ should consider how alcohol may affect their ability to carry out their Scouting role when back ‘on duty’ and correct ratios must always be adhered to. (See the Green card for more information and guidance.)
  • The use of any illegal substances on Scout activities is against the law and appropriate safeguarding action will be taken where necessary by the responsible commissioners. Headquarters will support and issue additional guidance on request.
  • Sex and relationships – See ‘Promoting good sexual health within Scouts’ which clearly outlines the role and responsibilities for leaders when discussing sex and relationships with children and young people within Scouts.
  • When working with partner organisations, a term of our agreement will be that the third party state: ‘We confirm that we have read and understood The Scouts’ Safeguarding policy and agree to abide by it.’

Any safeguarding concerns in regards to a child or young person must be reported to the Safeguarding team. All concerns must be reported to the Safeguarding Team via the Group Scout Leader or District Commissioner or direct to the Safeguarding Team, advising the Group Scout Leader or District Commissioner after making the referral.

If you’re in doubt of what to do, contact the Safeguarding Team. If a child or young person is at immediate risk of significant harm call 999 and request the police. Contact details of the Safeguarding team are found in the referral form. 

Adult at risk guidance

The principles of this adult at risk guidance are:

  • Empowerment – putting people first and helping all feel involved and informed
  • Protection – supporting individuals so they can take action
  • Prevention – responding quickly to suspected cases of abuse
  • Proportionality – making sure what we do is appropriate to the situation and for the individual
  • Partnership – sharing the right information in the right way
  • Accountability – making sure all volunteers, staff and trustees have a clear role when dealing with adults at risk.

It’s the responsibility of all volunteers and staff to:

  • Promote and prioritise the safety and wellbeing of adults at risk alongside young people.
  • Make sure that everyone’s clear about their roles and responsibilities in respect of safeguarding and be provided with appropriate learning opportunities to recognise, identify and respond to signs of abuse, neglect and other safeguarding concerns relating to adults at risk.
  • Securely maintain the confidentiality of any records in guidance by GDPR of all adult at risk safeguarding concerns.
  • Make sure that all adults undertaking roles and responsibilities with adults at risk are appropriately checked as per The Scouts’ vetting policy, including where they’re engaged in regulated activity with adults, undertaking the relevant disclosure check (see National Vetting Process NVP).
  • Make sure that all reports of suspected or alleged abuse are taken seriously and are responded to and reported appropriately in line with The Scouts’ Safeguarding policy.
  • Make sure adults are provided with opportunities to disclose any relevant details about their circumstances and that where appropriate, this information will be treated with confidentiality.
  • Prevent the participation of unsuitable individuals through the robust use of disclosure checking as they apply in each nation within the UK (including members of British Scouts Overseas), and the application of best practice in the safe recruitment of staff and volunteers working with children, young people and adults at risk.
  • Make sure that robust safeguarding arrangements and procedures are in operation and address without delay any failure to comply with this policy.

If any adult’s unable to understand and/or uphold the Safeguarding policy and the Code of Practice set out on the Yellow Card, or is unable to safeguard children or young people, then they cannot be considered for adult appointments.

  • The Scouts also has a whistleblowing process if you feel you aren’t being listened to.
  • The Scouts’ mandatory safeguarding training incorporates adult at risk advice that will assist in recognising any concerns, what to do and where to report. There’s also a reporting process for raising concerns within the adult at risk process. All concerns that reach the safeguarding threshold MUST be reported to the Safeguarding team on the adult at risk referral form (Appendix E).
  • There are variants across the nations, for the purposes of Scouts, an adult at risk is an individual who has reached the age of 18 years (see Appendix A)

Types of abuse and exploitation

Types of abuse and exploitation (defined by legislation or relevant guidance)

Abuse is a form of maltreatment and can either be inflicted by others or self-inflicted. Abuse can take place at home, education or within any physical environment. It can also happen in an online or virtual environment such as social media or gaming apps. An abuser can be anyone, but they’re often known by the young person or adult at risk. An abuser may make every effort to build a trusting relationship with the young person or adult at risk and will often befriend or seek to maintain the respect of friends and colleagues. This is grooming behaviour. Abuse can occur in any relationship at any time. It can occur within any community, culture or religion. It may result in significant harm to, or exploitation of, the person subjected to it.

Emotional/psychological – persistent emotional maltreatment of a person that results in their wellbeing or development being impaired. Some form of emotional abuse is involved in all types of abuse, but can also occur on its own.

Physical – is an individual’s body being injured or hurt, e.g. hitting, pushing or assault.

Physical abuse can also be in other forms, e.g. poisoning, inflicting illness upon another. It’s an intentional act.

Sexual – involvement in a sexual act where the person doesn’t wish to be involved, doesn’t have the understanding to make an informed choice or through coercion, e.g. rape, sexual assault, inappropriate touching or exposure. It may also include sexual exploitation, where gifts or bribes are offered. Sexual abuse can also occur across electronic devices or social media.

Neglect/act of omission – the failure to prevent harm that may damage, impair the growth or development of a child or young person by not meeting their basic physical or mental needs.

Peer on peer abuse – children and young people can also be abusers of other children, usually through bullying, sexual abuse, physical abuse, issues online, youth produced sexual images or any form of initiation.

Bullying – is a pattern of behaviour that can be threatening, aggressive, intimidating, abusive, insulting, offensive, cruel, vindictive, humiliating, degrading or demeaning. It can happen between young people, adults, in groups or singularly. It can happen within the ‘real world’ or online.

Online bullying or cyberbullying – happens across social media networks, when gaming or via mobile phones. Examples can include posting offensive material, and spreading rumours or embarrassing images.

‘Sexting’ (including youth produced sexual images) – when someone shares sexual, naked or semi-naked images of themselves or others or sends sexually explicit pictures. Sharing, possession or distribution of such images of a person under the age of 18 is illegal in the UK. There are also criminal offences in regards to adults posting sexual images of other adults in certain circumstances.

Drug or alcohol misuse – is a pattern of behaviour which changes or alters the mood or mental state of an individual. Not all substances that can cause harm are illegal but should not be permitted within the context of Scouts. For further information regarding drugs, see this guide.

Self-harm or self-neglect – deliberately causing harm to yourself by either hurting or putting yourself in harm’s way. Self-harm is mainly a coping strategy which young people adopt to release emotional stress. Self-neglect is the failure to care for yourself, e.g. personal hygiene, health or environment.

Addiction – is the inability to stop a particular behaviour (alcohol, drugs, gambling etc) which can impact relationships, health, finances and career. Addiction often co-occurs with other issues and it can make people vulnerable to coercion and/or mental health issues.

Domestic (relationship) abuse – is abuse or violence in a relationship. It’s a pattern of behaviour that can be a form of abuse and its purpose is to assert power over another. From 2018, stalking is also included in this definition. It also includes coercive behaviour. Such abuse can happen to young people and adults.

Financial – the theft or control of a person’s property or assets.

Discrimination – when someone’s targeted because of a difference, e.g. race, sex, gender, age, disability, religion or belief, sexual preference, appearance or cultural background, pregnancy and maternity, marriage or civil partnership.

Organisational/institutional – where an organisation fails to prevent repeated maltreatment, abuse or neglect of children or adults at risk.

Sexual – is where individuals are coerced into any form of sexual activity by power, money or status.

Modern slavery/human trafficking – includes forced labour, domestic servitude, coercion, deceiving or forcing an individual into a life of abuse/servitude, e.g. prostitution or drug running.

Gang – a group of people (any age) with a defined leadership and internal organisation that identifies with or claims control over territory in a community and engages, either individually or collectively, in illegal and possibly violent behaviour.

County lines – is a term used when drug gangs from cities expand their operations to smaller towns, often using violence to drive out local dealers and exploiting children and vulnerable adults to sell drugs.

Forced marriage –when someone’s forced into a marriage without their consent, where violence or threats are used in the form of coercion to this end. This practice is illegal in the UK.

Female genital mutilation – refers to a procedure which intentionally alters or causes injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons and without their informed consent. It can occur in the UK or an individual may be taken outside of the UK. It is illegal in the UK.

Honour based violence – when incidents or crimes are committed to protect or defend the family’s honour/or of the community

Specialist areas of safeguarding

Safeguarding is an underpinning principle of everything we do in The Scouts. Sometimes a particular aspect of working with children and young people is not in itself a safeguarding issue but may need to be managed by utilising safeguarding processes.

Mental wellbeing is how an individual copes with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and can make a contribution to their community. Anyone can experience good or poor mental wellbeing at any point in their lives.

Mental health problems may vary in terms of strength and frequency of re-occurrence; they can take the form of an occasional crisis or a steady state over many years. Some individuals with a mental health issue can be at risk as they develop potentially harmful coping strategies, e.g. anxiety attacks, self-harm or suicidal ideation. There may be a small risk in terms of aggressive behaviour.

We recognise The Scouts has a legal duty under the Equality and Diversity Act to ensure accessibility for all, but also that The Scouts provides opportunities for young people to get together, build connections and friendships and provide peer support among themselves. This can help to build tolerance and empathy amongst young people and can be particularly powerful for groups of young people known to be at risk of developing mental health problems. The Scouts seeks to encourage any person who is facing mental health problems to talk to their leaders or volunteer line managers around how The Scouts can better support them in their Scouting journey. Supporting young people or adults at risk with mental health issues and assessing any risk to them or others is part of our wider safeguarding duties.

Protecting children from the risk of radicalisation is seen as part of The Scouts’ wider safeguarding duties and is similar in nature to protecting children from other grooming behaviours. Volunteers and staff should be able to identify children who may be vulnerable to radicalisation and know what to do when they are identified. We seek to build children and young people’s resilience to radicalisation by promoting our Scout values and enable them to challenge extremist views within the youth programme.

It’s important to emphasise that we don’t seek to control or preclude open discussion of controversial issues. Groups should provide a safe space in which children and young people can understand the risks associated with radicalisation and develop the knowledge and skills to be able to challenge extremist arguments and indoctrination. While we don’t have a legal duty under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 to have ‘due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’ (the ‘Prevent duty’), we take all aspects of the safety and welfare of our young people seriously.

Radicalisation can occur within any community if extremist views are left unchallenged.

Further information: You can get further information on radicalisation from ACT Early and training available through the government PREVENT elearning training package. Don't forget that any concern for a Scouts member relating to radicalisation must be reported to the Safeguarding Team.

The Scouts is an organisation that places value in our inclusivity and actively promotes our equal opportunities policy. The Scouts welcomes members regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Transgender or ‘trans’ is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. A person may live or be considering living in their self-identified gender; going through what’s known as transition, being known by a different name, wearing different clothes and/or concealing parts of their body. The person may or may not decide to have gender reassignment to permanently alter their body to match their self-identified gender. A person may call themselves transgender or ‘trans’ for short. However, they may simply live as their acquired gender and not want others to know they are transgender.

A person of any age over 18 years may choose to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), as a legal recognition of their acquired gender. This isn’t compulsory and is often not applied for. The Scouts recognises the importance and benefit of supporting an individual, either adult or young person, who’s transitioning or identifies as transgender. It’s important to recognise that a trans person is at particular risk of physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

Similar to many individuals, a trans person may seek support and access to networks of those sharing similar views and feelings online (for further information, see Supporting trans young people). The same principle applies when supporting young people who identify as non-binary or gender neutral.

We’re an inclusive organisation and encourage all members to talk to their leaders or volunteer line managers around how The Scouts can better support them.

If any volunteer or staff member has a concern in regard to any of these areas, contact the Safeguarding team for advice and guidance.

Pre-existing relationships

The Yellow Card states, ‘Do not overstep the boundaries between yourself and young people by engaging in friendships or sexual relationships’. This is an important factor to prevent any breaches of the position of trust, to make sure that any volunteer acts appropriately towards our young people, and to prevent grooming and child abuse occurring. However, in line with S.24 sexual offences, there are particular circumstances where a pre-existing relationship will be accepted.

The circumstances are as follows:

  • An 18-year-old has recently become an adult volunteer or Network member
  • They’re in a relationship with a young person who’s in Scouts and who’s aged over 16, the start of which pre-dates the individual taking on the role as leader
  • The relationship is consensual, and
  • The adult must inform their line-manager of the pre-existing relationship prior to taking their appointment.

In the above circumstances, the District Commissioner must satisfy themselves that the above conditions are in place. A meeting must be held with the young person (the under 18) and their parent/carer to make sure that there’s a full understanding of the situation and any restrictions that’ll be put in place. An agreement will be undertaken and strictly adhered to that the adult won’t volunteer in the Group or Unit, or at any event that the under 18 year old that they’re in a relationship with attends.

This exception to the Yellow Card can only be used in the specific circumstances stated and strict adherence of this must be monitored to avoid abuse in the guise of a pre-existing relationship. A framework for conversations regarding pre-existing relationships is in Appendix F.

If any volunteer or staff member has a concern in regard to any of these areas, contact the Safeguarding team for advice and guidance.

Roles and responsibilities for safeguarding

Everyone within The Scouts must fully understand and implement the safeguarding policies and procedures relevant to their role. To enable this to happen, we have a comprehensive training programme and a safeguarding structure that makes sure we’re proactively safeguarding across the organisation.

Full details of the safeguarding structure are listed in Appendix C. 

All volunteers – safeguarding is the responsibility of all volunteers and everyone must follow the Code of Behaviour – Young People First (Yellow Card).

HQ Safeguarding team – who respond to allegations and advise volunteer line managers on action required. The Chief Safeguarding Officer is the ultimate source of advice on all safeguarding matters.

Commissioners – have the responsibility of appointing appropriate people with the required disclosure check. To take immediate steps in consultation with the safeguarding team to make sure no Scout activity arises which could cause harm. To suspend where necessary, and to appoint Safeguarding Awareness Co-ordinators (see POR Chapter 16).

County/Area/Region Safeguarding Advisers – provide general advice within their county and specific advice to their County Commissioner and Executive committee on the implementation of the Safeguarding policy.

Trustees – The Scouts’ Board of Trustees hold the responsibility to make sure this Safeguarding policy is implemented and working effectively. The trustees delegate this responsibility to the Safeguarding Committee to ensure effective quality assurance, compliance and reporting. The trustees’ full responsibilities are listed in Appendix D.

Group Scout Leaders and Section Leaders (including Explorer Leaders) – to provide a safe space for
all activities and events to run safely for all. To be alert, question behaviours, seek advice, support and report allegations or concerns.

Safeguarding commitments

Promoting a safe, trusted environment and a culture that prioritises safeguarding.

All volunteers, staff and trustees will respect children, young people and adults at risk, and establish a culture where we put young people first so they can develop their skills for life. They will also provide supportive and safe spaces for everyone involved.

The Scouts will strive to create and maintain environments which are safe for everyone who has dealings with them.

  • Volunteer and staff training
  • Creating safer working practice
  • Responding promptly to safeguarding concerns
  • Treating people with respect
  • Support for volunteers
  • Organisational learning and compliance
  • Effective communication

All volunteers are required to complete safeguarding training as part of ‘Getting started’ within five months of appointment. This is mandatory and must be updated on a regular basis and at least every three years depending on their individual role. All staff members must also attend mandatory safeguarding training, and this also should be updated every three years.

The Scouts is committed to making sure that safeguarding training remains updated and relevant, so that all volunteers and staff members understand their individual and organisational commitment to ensuring that young people’s safety and wellbeing remains a priority.

Safe working practice means working together to create a safe space for all. The Scouts will offer young people and adults at risk a transparent and open environment where they can develop, learn, explore or volunteer. They can be confident that the Yellow Card’s embedded within the culture, that challenge is accepted and that the building of open, strong professional relationships is encouraged.

Anyone who reports any safeguarding concerns or allegations to The Scouts will be treated with respect. All safeguarding concerns and allegations will be dealt with in accordance with statutory child safeguarding guidance and The Scouts’ safeguarding procedures. All volunteers and staff will cooperate fully with the statutory authorities in all cases. The safeguarding procedures are outlined in the end to end process.

Whenever a safeguarding concern, poor practice issue or allegation of abuse is raised, The Scouts will offer support to all those that have been affected. People will receive a compassionate response, be listened to and be taken seriously. The Scouts will respond in accordance with this policy and practice guidance. Where appropriate, this will be done in collaboration with the relevant statutory agencies.

In responding to safeguarding concerns or allegations of abuse, The Scouts will endeavour to respect the rights under criminal and civil law of an accused person. The Scouts will take responsibility for making sure that steps are taken to protect young people when any person is considered a risk to others through the safeguarding process. In addition, The Scouts recognises people who are subject to safeguarding concerns are vulnerable during any internal or statutory agency process. Scouts will take all reasonable steps to support people through this process.

Sharing information is vital to protect children, young people and adults at risk from suffering or being likely to suffer significant harm. However, information will only be shared with the relevant people and otherwise will be treated with the strictest of confidence to make sure that all individuals involved have trust in the handling of any allegation or concerns.

The Scouts acknowledges the emotional impact and distress that can be caused to volunteers when dealing with, witnessing or referring child protection or safeguarding matters. The Safeguarding team, in collaboration with the volunteer line managers, will offer support, guidance and appropriate signposting to any individual who’s been affected. It’s recognised that making a referral can be difficult, but all volunteers have a duty to report concerns or suspicions and have a right to do so in confidence and free from harassment. All volunteers will be appropriately supported throughout the process if and when required.

The Scouts’ whistleblowing policy is available online if, after reporting a concern, you don’t feel that it’s been adequately dealt with.

Keeping young people and adults at risk safe and dealing with all parties involved in any safeguarding enquiry respectfully is of paramount importance. However, The Scouts recognises that processes and outcomes can and must be improved. The Scouts is committed to being transparent about learning from these situations through a robust and effective quality assurance and compliance process, which is monitored by the Board of Trustees and checked through independent external scrutiny.

All information will be managed under the Data Protection Act 1998. However, this act and human rights laws are not barriers to justified information sharing but are a framework to make sure that personal information about living individuals is shared and stored appropriately.

This policy will be regularly reviewed and updated accordingly.

Age ranges

If any adult is unable to understand and/or uphold the safeguarding policy and the Code of Practice set out on the ‘Yellow Card’ or is unable to safeguard children or young people, then they cannot be considered for adult appointments.

An adult at risk who’s aged between 18 and 25 years old– can be a member of the Scout Network, which means they can access activities such as camps and international development with the explicit agreement of the District or County Commissioner. If someone within this age range is a member of a group within a SEN school with sufficient interest and participants, a consideration can be made to create a Network group within the school. Consultation with the responsible commissioner would be required. Permission should be logged and be subject to annual review. Additional assessment, training and in some cases, vetting checks, may need to be implemented and this may only occur in exceptional circumstances and only with clear written permissions. (See Safer recruitment and POR.)

An adult at risk who reaches their 25th birthday – may take on a new role in The Scouts, such as an adult appointment, or join a Scout Active Support Unit, subject to the appointment process. It’s not possible to remain a member of the Scout Network outside of these options. Every effort should be made to signpost using the information found online. 

An adult at risk who holds a role in a position of trust, who is temporarily incapacitated, e.g. has a period of poor mental health or sudden onset of illness, should be asked to step down temporarily under the support of the District or County Commissioner. If this is a long-term situation then advice should be sought from the Safeguarding team, but consideration should be given to withdrawal based on their ability to safeguard children and young people in their care. Advice should always be sought from the Safeguarding team and the individual’s line management team.

Reasonable adjustments

Reasonable adjustments should respond to the needs of the individual and remove or
reduce any barriers or support access, by making changes to:

  • Physical environment (e.g. the meeting place)
  • The way things are done (e.g. the programme, routines)
  • The support provided (e.g. equipment, adapting communication, the level of support)

These considerations should be explored in detail, in consultation with the individual and where appropriate, their carer. The situation should be regularly reviewed to make sure that the adjustments are removing barriers to participation, are being implemented effectively and are responding to the needs of the individual. What’s reasonable is dependent upon the effectiveness of the adjustment, whether it can actually be done, and the cost and resources available to the Group at that time. Reasonable adjustments is a legal term which recognises that each Group will have different practical resources to meet the needs of an individual person.

How do we make sure adults are safe to work with adults at risk?

It’s the policy of The Scouts that all adult volunteers, which includes carers, must have the appropriate disclosure check for the role and the regulated activity they’re undertaking.

In line with our safer recruitment and safeguarding policies, a member must not undertake a role until they’ve successfully:

  • Completed the relevant recruitment checks for that role; and
  • Completed the required training for that role.

In addition, no individual should be expected to undertake a role that they don’t feel comfortable with.

The definition of regulated activity is different for children and adults. The definition of regulated activity for adults at risk focuses on the type of activity and contact an individual may have with the adult. Unlike the definition of regulated activity with children, the definition for adults does not stipulate a frequency requirement. For adults at risk, the activity alone means an individual is in regulated activity and one instance is enough to qualify.

If you're asked to undertake activities that may fall within the scope of what is called intimate care then you should discuss with the responsible Commissioner to check you’re correctly vetted and have completed the required training. Otherwise you must not undertake those activities.

The concept of ‘mental capacity’ to make informed safeguarding decisions

Mental capacity is a legal term and is contained in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice, which is statutory guidance.

Mental capacity is assessed in relation to the particular decision which needs to be made. This means that whether a person has mental capacity to make a particular decision or not has to be considered on an individual basis in the light of the circumstances at the time. You mustn’t just make a conclusion that someone lacks mental capacity generally. If a person lacks the capacity to make this particular decision, then someone else (usually their parent/carer) may be able to make that decision for them.

Advice should be sought from the Safeguarding team if there are concerns regarding mental capacity.

A person must be assumed to have capacity to make decisions that affect them unless there’s evidence that they’re not able to make the relevant decision.

Someone’s treated as being unable to make a decision if they’re not able:

  • To understand the information relevant to the decision
  • To retain that information
  • To use or weigh that information as part of the process of making the decision, or
  • To communicate their decision (using the most appropriate method to ensure effective communication)

Before concluding that an individual’s unable to make a decision, all practical steps should be taken to help them make the decision. Importantly, the Mental Capacity Act is clear that a person isn’t to be treated as unable to make a decision merely because they make an unwise decision, have a disability or are assumed to not be able to because of their individual needs. If an individual lacks capacity to make a particular decision, the person making the decision on their behalf may, when appropriate, act in the individual’s best
interests.

Safer recruitment

The Scouts is committed to making sure that adults who volunteer within Scouts are appropriate candidates. Our priorities are to safeguard children, young people and adults at risk.

To achieve this, we’re invested in recruiting the best people and supporting them in their role through our safer recruitment policy. 

  • Undertake a robust application process, which includes a behavioural focused and values based interview by the Appointment Advisory Committee (AAC)
  • Have to provide a minimum of two references
  • Undertake an induction which clearly explains their role and responsibilities to safeguarding within The Scouts
  • Complete the appropriate level of training required for their role
  • Complete appropriate vetting process if required

Legislation and guidance

The Scouts’ safeguarding procedures are set out in the end to end process. Scouts policy documents and government legislation across the UK support this policy. All these documents are underpinned by the Human Rights Act 1998 and the UN Convention on the rights of the child, 1992. For full details of legislation see Appendix B.

Review

This policy is due for review:

  • Every 12 months or
  • Following any legislative changes, or;
  • Following any learning by The Scouts, or;
  • As required by the Charity Commission, or;
  • Any change in jurisdictional guidance, whichever comes first.

The policy will be reviewed by the Chief Safeguarding Officer and the Safeguarding Committee, and revisions will be recommended to the Board of Trustees.

Safeguarding team contact details

Telephone the team: 0208 433 7164
Email the team: safeguarding@scouts.org.uk 
Emergency out-of-hours: 07977539630

Referral form available within Safeguarding procedures for Commissioners.

 

Appendix A Key definitions

The Scouts will refer to any person under the age of 18 years old as a young person. Within safeguarding legislation, different terminology is adopted and this is reflected across this policy.

Volunteer – someone who gives their time freely for the benefit of The Scouts and within the definitions of this policy also includes any leader, manager, supporter, Scout Network Member, associate member, executive committee member or trustee

Child – The Scouts recognises that the legal definition of a child can differ across jurisdictions,
however for The Scouts, the definition of a child is someone under 18 years.

In England, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and Wales, a child is defined as ‘any person under the age of 18, whether living with their families, in state care or living independently’ (Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018, p.7 & The Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995).

In Scotland, ‘a child is generally defined as any person under the age of 18’. However, there may be circumstances where people aged 16 and 17 years are classed as adults and advice should be taken on a case by case basis on which laws apply in Scotland (National guidance for child protection in Scotland, 2014).

Young person – Has no specific legal definition. However, 12–18 years is the standard age associated with this term. In The Scouts, the term ‘young person’ is used to describe youth members up to the age of 25 years.

Adult – has a specific legal meaning of anyone above the age of 18 years.

Safeguarding – for the purposes of this policy, we are using the terms ‘safeguarding’ and ‘to safeguard’ to describe the prevention and precautionary approach to planning and procedures needed to protect children and young people from any potential harm, impairment of a child’s health or development, providing safe and effective care and taking action to enable all children and young people have the best outcomes.

Child protection – a part of safeguarding and refers to the activity undertaken to protect children suffering from or at risk of significant harm (Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018).

Adult at risk – an adult, who is, or may be, in need of community care services ie adult social services, because of mental health, disability, age or illness, and/or who’s unable to care for themselves or unable to protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation.

The definition is further defined by each Nation:

Scotland: ‘Adults at risk’ are adults who:
(a) are unable to safeguard their own wellbeing, property, rights or other interests, (b) are at risk of harm, and (c) because they’re affected by disability, mental disorder, illness or physical or mental infirmity, are more vulnerable to being harmed than adults who are not so affected.

Wales: An ‘adult at risk’ is an adult who:
(a) is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect, (b) has needs for care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs), and (c) as a result of those needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.

Northern Ireland: An ‘Adult at risk of harm’ is a person aged 18 or over whose exposure to harm through abuse, exploitation or neglect may be increased by their: (a) personal
characteristics and/or (b) life circumstances.

An ‘Adult in need of protection’ is a person aged 18 or over whose exposure to harm through abuse, exploitation or neglect may be increased by their: (a) personal characteristics and/or (b) life circumstances and (c) who is unable to protect their own wellbeing, property, assets, rights or other interests; (d) where the action or inaction of another person or persons is causing, or is likely to cause, him/her to be harmed.

England: The safeguarding duties in the Care act apply to an adult who:
(a)has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs) (b) is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect (c) as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect.

Parent – an individual who, in law, has custody, guardianship or access rights in regards to a child and who may have corollary obligations to financially support a minor, typically by way of child support. Also includes individuals who may have a child born through a surrogacy; those who adopt a child, those who have care or control of a child through a foster care arrangement; and those who have the care or custody of a child through a Court order.

Under section 576 of the Education Act 1996 (EA 1996), a ‘parent’ in relation to a child or young person is defined as: The biological parents of a child, whether they are married or not. Anyone who, although not a biological parent, has parental responsibility for a child.

Parental responsibility – A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child
from birth. A father usually has parental responsibility if he’s either:

  • Married to the child’s mother
  • Listed on the birth certificate (after a certain date, depending on which part of the UK the child was born in).

You can apply for parental responsibility if you don’t automatically have it.

If the parents of a child are married when the child is born, or if they’ve jointly adopted a child, both have parental responsibility. They both keep parental responsibility if they later divorce.

A father has parental responsibility if he’s married to the mother when the child is conceived, or marries her at any point afterwards. An unmarried father has parental responsibility if he’s named on the child’s birth certificate (from 4 May 2006).

A father has parental responsibility if he’s married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. If a father marries the mother after the child’s birth, he has parental responsibility if he lives in Northern Ireland at the time of the marriage. An unmarried father has parental responsibility if he’s named, or becomes named, on the child’s birth certificate (from 15 April 2002).

If a child is born overseas and comes to live in the UK, parental responsibility depends on the UK country they’re now living in.

An unmarried father can get parental responsibility for his child in one of three ways:

  • Jointly registering the birth of the child with the mother (from 1 December 2003)
  • Getting a parental responsibility agreement with the mother
  • Getting a parental responsibility order from a court

Same-sex partners will both have parental responsibility if they were civil partners at the time of the treatment, e.g. donor insemination or fertility treatment.

For same-sex partners who aren’t civil partners, the 2nd parent can get parental
responsibility by either:

  • Applying for parental responsibility if a parental agreement was made
  • Becoming a civil partner of the other parent and making a parental responsibility agreement or jointly registering the birth.

Person focused – our safeguarding practice places the views of an individual at the centre of our policy planning and implementation processes. It encourages us to have conversations with people about how we might respond in safeguarding situations in ways that enhance involvement, inform choice and control. We work preventatively, to make sure that robust procedures are in place and respond to each adult at risk as a unique and valued individual, in ways which advances the person’s rights, dignity and wellbeing and are legal, proportionate and reasonable; mindful at all times that we are working to safeguard adults who have the right to be involved in and informed of all safeguarding decisions which affect them. It’s about seeing people as experts in their own lives and working alongside them with the aim of enabling them to reach better resolution of their circumstances and recovery.

Child and young person focused – our safeguarding practice places the views of children and young people at the centre of our policy planning and implementation processes. This approach makes sure that their welfare remains paramount in all we do.

Adult protection – adult protection is part of safeguarding and refers to the activity undertaken to protect adults suffering from, or at risk of significant harm (No Secrets – Statutory guidance (2000), and Social Care Institute for Excellence (2011): Safeguarding Adults at Risk of Harm).

Adult at risk – an adult, who is, or may be, in need of community care services ie adult social services, because of mental health, disability, age or illness, and/or who is unable to care for themselves or unable to protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation.

Significant harm – Harm is the ‘ill treatment or the impairment of the health or development of the child’. It’s determined significant by ‘comparing a child’s health and development with what might be reasonably expected of a similar child’.

Development – includes physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development.

Health – includes physical and mental health.

Ill-treatment – includes sexual abuse and other forms of ill-treatment which may not be physical.

Radicalisation – refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and/or extremist ideologies associated with terrorist groups.

Safety – safety’s about being protected from, and not causing, danger, risk, injury, loss or harm. Safety can be a feeling, a physical object or place, and an action, and sometimes refers to the laws, rules, and principles that are intended to keep people safe. Safety isn’t just about what happens inside the meeting place, it’s also about what happens outside it – including days out – and may be about something that’s happening at home.

Wellbeing – Wellbeing refers to a person’s sense of contentment and satisfaction with their conditions in life and their current circumstances. It’s closely linked to emotional balance and mental health but is also affected by an individual’s attitude, values and perspective.

Grooming – is the planned and deliberate act of manoeuvring an individual into a position of isolation to make sure they become a key influencer or ‘trusted person’.

Appendix B Legislation and guidance across all jurisdictions

This policy complies with the following pieces of legislation. 

This is not an exhaustive list.

Children Act 2004 – all four countries have their own interpretation of the act but in essence, the acts share the same principle. e.g. the intention to ensure that the welfare and developmental needs of children and young people are met, including their need to be protected from harm.

Working Together to Safeguarding Children Guidance rev 2018 – lays out the framework that all statutory and non-statutory agencies should follow to make sure everyone’s working together to safeguard children and young people.

Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1974 (UK wide) – there’s no specific legislation for youth organisations, however, there is a general duty for employers to protect and ensure a safe space for employees and volunteers.

Data protection GDPR 2018 – the GDPR explicitly states that children’s personal data merits specific protection. It also introduces new requirements for the online processing of a child’s personal data. Children have the same rights as adults over their personal data.

Equality Act 2010 – consolidates previous anti-discrimination law in UK. It requires equal treatment for everyone.

The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 – gave local authorities a statutory duty to have ‘due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’ (the ‘Prevent’ duty).

Human Rights Act 1998 and the United Nations Convention the Rights of the Child (signed up to in 1991 by UK government) – some elements have been enshrined within UK law ie Article 1, definition of a child; Article 2, all children should be treated the same; Article 3, the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in decision making; and Article 12, all children have the right to express their views freely, in all matters that affect them.

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 – all people working with children and young people should be appropriately checked if they’re undertaking a regulated activity on a regular basis.

The Care Act 2014 – sets out a clear legal framework for how local authorities and other parts of the system should protect adults at risk of abuse or neglect.

Specific guidance across regions

  • Care Act, 2014
  • Care and Support statutory guidance, 2016
  • Children’s Act 1989
  • Children’s Act 2004
  • Children and Families Act, 2014
  • Children and Social Work Act, 2017
  • Education Act 2002
  • Education Act 2011
  • Equalities Act 2010
  • Keeping Children Safe in Education, 2018
  • Mental Capacity Act, 2005
  • Safeguarding disabled children practice guidance, 2009
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, 2006
  • SEND code of practice, 2014
  • Working Together to safeguard children, 2018
  • Safeguarding Act 2018
  • The Children (Northern Ireland) Order, 1995
  • Cooperating to safeguard children and young people in Northern Ireland, 2017
  • Mental Capacity Act (NI), 2016 Adult Safeguarding: Prevention and protection in partnership, 2015
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (NI) Order, 2007
  • Safeguarding Board Act (Northern Ireland) 2011
  • Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007
  • Adult Support and Protection Code of Practice, 2014
  • Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act, 2000
  • Children (Scotland) Act, 1995
  • Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, 2014
  • Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc. and Care) (Scotland) Act 2016
  • Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003
  • National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2014.
  • Protecting Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007
  • Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) Standards (2014).
  • The Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991 (c.50).
  • Children’s Act, 1989
  • Children’s Act, 2004
  • Children and Social Work Act, 2017
  • Social Services and Wellbeing Act, 2014
  • Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act -Working together to safeguard people, volume 1, 2016
  • All Wales Child Protection procedures, 2008
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, 2006
  • Mental Capacity Act, 2005

Adult at risk relevant legislation

This policy complies with the following pieces of legislation specifically. See also Safeguarding children and young people policy. 

This is not an exhaustive list.

The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 – made adult protection a statutory responsibility and placed a responsibility on partner agencies to co-operate with statutory investigations and to report concerns about abuse or harm to the relevant local authority (even if allegations are anonymous).

The Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Act 2014 – provides the legal framework for improving the wellbeing of people who need care and support, and carers who need support, and for transforming social services in Wales. This act introduces a mandatory duty to report if you have a concern about ‘an adult at risk’ (as defined in this legislation – see glossary) who may be or has been abused or harmed.

Adult Safeguarding: Prevention and Protection in Partnership July 2015 – places significant emphasis on prevention and early intervention to improve safeguarding arrangements for adults who are at risk from harm and abuse.

Inter-Agency Safeguarding Adults Adult Protection Policy 2016–2018 (Isle of Man) – sets the expectation of us as providers of social care services to enact our core responsibility to provide safe, effective and high quality care. Adult protection concerns require a variety of responses including internal and external investigations, disciplinary processes, clinical governance processes and the involvement of the police, regulatory authorities and staff training.

Mental Capacity Act (2005) – applies to anyone over the age of 16. Decisions about a young person’s capacity and best interests can be made in the same way as for any adult.

Children and Families Act 2014 – a child will become a young person once they reach the end of compulsory school age (ie the last Friday of June in the year the child turns 16). At that point, parental rights under the law in relation to the young person's education will automatically pass to the young person themselves.

However, if the young person is recognised as being covered by the SEN and Disability Code of Practice 2015 (‘the Code’), their family and parents should continue to be involved in discussions about their future. The young person may also ask them to help in other ways such as attending meetings, filling in forms or receiving correspondence on their behalf. This is particularly important for 16 and 17 year olds, for whom parents will retain parental responsibility until they reach the age of 18 and in certain cases, up to 25 years.

Appendix C Roles and responsibilities for safeguarding

Everyone within The Scouts must fully understand and implement the safeguarding policies and procedures relevant to their role. To enable this to happen, we have a comprehensive training programme and a safeguarding structure that makes sure we’re pro-actively safeguarding right across the organisation.

Our structure includes:

  • The Scouts’ Safeguarding team interprets legislation and makes sure we’re legally compliant and demonstrating good safeguarding practice. It also has a remit to respond to allegations and advise volunteer line managers of the actions required in the event of a suspicion or allegation of abuse against one of their leaders
  • The Safeguarding team has certain legal and regulatory obligations that all members of The Scouts must assist in meeting, such as the ‘duty to refer’ any adult if there are any concerns that they’re not suitable to work with young people, and all child protection concerns.
  • The Chief Safeguarding Officer at Headquarters is The Scouts’ ultimate source of advice on all safeguarding matters (children, young people and adults at risk) and works in partnership with relevant sub-committees and senior leadership team.
  • Must be satisfied that everyone they appoint are: (a) appropriate people to carry out the responsibilities of the appointment, and (b) if required, maintain a current valid disclosure check and the appropriate level for their role (DBS, Access NI, PVG). They must make sure that all applicants demonstrate an understanding of and a commitment to the principles and procedures supporting The Scouts’ Safeguarding policy.
  • In cases where there’s an allegation or suspicion of abuse, the District Commissioner or County Commissioner, as appropriate, in consultation with the Safeguarding team, must immediately take steps to make sure that no Scout situation arises which could cause further harm. To this end, suspension of membership may be necessary (see Chapter 15 of POR) which will affect all volunteering roles of that individual.
  • Undertake mandatory training as described in POR: the Appointment Process.
  • Advise the County Commissioner and the County Executive Committee on the implementation of The Scouts’ Safeguarding and Bullying policies within the county and monitor compliance and reporting their findings to the County Executive Committee and Headquarters.
  • Provide general guidance to the various Districts and Groups in the counties to which they’re appointed, but shouldn’t be involved in responding to allegations or suspicions of abuse.

NB: The role can’t be combined with an appointment as a Group Scout Leader or
Commissioner in the same County.

Their role is to provide a safe space for all activities and events to run. Their role is also to be alert, question behaviours, seek advice, and support and report allegations or concerns.

Safeguarding’s the responsibility of all volunteers. They must attend training to enable them to do this and follow the Code of Behaviour – Young People First (Yellow Card).

The Scout Association Trustees retain overall responsibility to make sure this safeguarding policy’s implemented and working effectively. Their role is to make sure of effective quality assurance, compliance and reporting of safeguarding within the organisation. The trustee’s full responsibilities are listed below.

The role of Scout Trustees
The Charity Commission expects all trustees to make sure their charity:

  • Has appropriate policies and procedures in place, which are followed by all trustees, volunteers and beneficiaries
  • Checks that people are suitable to act in their roles
  • Knows how to spot and handle concerns in a full and open manner
  • Has a clear system of referring or reporting to relevant organisations as soon as concerns are suspected or identified
  • Sets out risks and how they will be managed in a risk register which is regularly reviewed
  • Follows statutory guidance, good practice guidance and legislation relevant to their charity: this guidance links to the main sources of information
  • Is quick to respond to concerns and carry out appropriate investigations
  • Does not ignore harm or downplay failures
  • Has a balanced trustee Board and does not let one trustee dominate its work – trustees should work together
  • Makes sure protecting people from harm is central to its culture
  • Has enough resources, including trained staff/volunteers/trustees for safeguarding and protecting people
  • Conducts periodic reviews of safeguarding policies, procedures and practice

Appendix D Adult at risk referral

Adult at risk referral form

Appendix E Young person safeguarding referral 

Young person safeguarding referral form.

Pre-existing relationship conversation framework

This framework’s designed to support initial conversations with all parties involved where a discussion around a pre-existing relationship.

The Yellow Card states, ‘Do not overstep the boundaries between yourself and young people by engaging in friendships or sexual relationships’. This is an important factor to prevent any breaches of the position of trust and make sure that any volunteer acts appropriately towards our young people and can prevent grooming and child abuse occurring. However, in line with Section 24 of the Sexual Offences Act, there are particular circumstances where a pre-existing relationship will be accepted. The circumstances are as follows;

  • An 18 year old has recently become an adult volunteer or Network member
  • They’re in a relationship with a young person who’s a member of The Scouts and is aged over 16 and under 18, and the relationship start pre-dates the individual taking on their adult role
  • The relationship is consensual, and
  • The leader must inform their line manager of the pre-existing relationship prior to taking on their adult role

In the above circumstances, the District Commissioner must satisfy themselves that the above conditions are in place. A meeting must be held with the under 18 young person) and their parent/carer to make sure that there’s a full understanding of the situation and any restrictions that will be put in place. An agreement will be undertaken and strictly adhered to that the adult will not volunteer in the group or at any event that the under 18 year old that they’re in a relationship with attends.

This exception to the Yellow Card can only be used in the specific circumstances stated, and strict adherence of this must be monitored to avoid abuse in the guise of a pre-existing relationship.

A conversation is required with the young person and their parent/carer, as well as a separate conversation with the individual who wishes to become an adult volunteer or Network member. Plan an appropriate place for the conversation take place. This should be a neutral and comfortable space, where you’ll be able to talk without being interrupted. The conversation should involve the District Commissioner (or their nominated representative) and a record of all conversations should be logged and recorded in line with GDPR. Before the meeting, you may wish to refer to The Scouts’ Safeguarding policy. This will ensure that you feel prepared and confident, and understand the requirements of the pre-existing relationship exemption.

All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that this assessment process remains inclusive for any individual who has a disability or additional needs.

  • Make sure that the adult/Network member understands that this is a formal conversation and the outcomes will be recorded.
  • Be supportive and commend them for informing you of/discussing the relationship.
  • Be positive but realistic. Explain that there are only certain criteria allowed for a pre-existing relationship to be accepted and agreed. Highlight the importance of adherence to the Yellow Card and how this ensures that The Scouts keeps young people safe.
  • Talk to the adult/Network member who hash the pre-existing relationship with the under 18 year old. Key points to cover are:
    • How old is the under 18?
    • When did the relationship commence? If prior to the under 18 year old reaching 16, explore this aspect.
    • Are the under 18’s parent/carer aware of the relationship?
    • What’s the age gap?
    • Where did they meet?
    • Do other members of The Scouts (young people and adult members) know about the relationship?
    • Does the under 18 know of this process? If so, what are their views?
    • Do they have any concerns or reservations?
    • Do they have any questions?
  • Remember that each person will be different and some may find discussing personal issues difficult or embarrassing. Reassure them as to why this conversation must occur and why.
  • Explain to the adult/Network member that you’ll be speaking to the under 18 year old and their parent/carer, how you plan to store and share any information you record, and what the next steps will be.
  • Explain to the adult/Network member that there’ll be restrictions placed on where and what events they can volunteer at, due to any agreed pre-existing relationship and that part of their continued volunteering/attendance will be to accept and adhere to any restrictions put in place.
  • If the answers to the questions or other information available indicate that this relationship doesn’t fall into the criteria of a pre-existing relationship, be transparent. If you feel that you need to take advice, let them know and give them an appropriate timescale when you’ll give them an update.
  • If you’re unsure or believe that the information gained is a safeguarding concern, please contact the Safeguarding team:

Telephone the team: 0208 433 7164

Email the team: safeguarding@scouts.org.uk

Emergency out-of-hours: 07977539630

  • Make sure that the young person and their parent/carer understands that this is a formal conversation and the outcomes will be recorded.
  • Start the conversation with some simple introductions, an explanation of The Scouts’ Safeguarding policy, and the importance of adherence to this and the Yellow Card to keep young people are safe.
  • Explain that the Yellow Card states, ‘Do not overstep the boundaries between yourself and young people by engaging in friendships or sexual relationships’ and the exemption of pre-existing relationships.
  • Explain that their membership of The Scouts, as a young person, will be prioritised.
  • Ask the young person about the relationship (following similar questions that were suggested above), acknowledging that it’s difficult having these conversations with them and in front of their parent/carer.
  • Make sure you gain clarity regarding what group/s the young person attends and what events they plan or are considering attending.
  • Ask the parent(s)/carer(s) questions in regards to the relationship between their child and the over 18 year old. Key points to cover are:
    • How long have they known about the relationship?
    • What were their views when they found out about the relationship?
    • What are their views of the relationship now?
    • How old was their child at the commencement of the relationship?
    • Do they know how they met?
    • Do they have any concerns?
    • Do they understand why The Scouts requires this conversation and process to occur?
    • Do they have any questions?
  • Remember that each person will be different and some may find discussing personal issues difficult or embarrassing. Reassure them as to why this conversation occurred.
  • Explain to the young person and their parent/carer that you’ve spoken to the under 18, how you plan to store and share any information you record, and what the next steps will be.
  • Explain to the young person and their parent/carer that there’ll be restrictions placed on the adult/Network member as to where and what events they can volunteer at due to any agreed pre-existing relationship, and that part of their continued volunteering/attendance will be to accept and adhere to any restrictions put in place. There would be an expectation that the young person and their parent/carer are in agreement and support any restrictions.
  • If the answers to the questions or other information available indicate that this relationship doesn’t fall into the criteria of a pre-existing relationship, be transparent. If you feel that you need to take advice, inform the young person and their parent/carer of this and give them an appropriate timescale when you’ll give them an update.
  • If you’re unsure or believe that the information gained is a safeguarding concern, please contact the Safeguarding team on:

Telephone the team: 0208 433 7164

Email the team: safeguarding@scouts.org.uk

Emergency out-of-hours: 07977539630

It’s important all parties understand what will take place next. If it’s clear that this is an excepted pre-existing relationship then discussions should be had with all parties as to the next steps. You should explain that the adult/Network member will not be able to volunteer/attend in any group or attend any event in any capacity that the young person (under 18) will be attending. Therefore, it’s important that an open dialogue continues between all parties, so that you or your nominated representative are kept updated regarding any movement or attendance to future events.

If it’s unclear whether the relationship meets the criteria of a pre-existing relationship, then be transparent with all parties and advise them that you need to gain further information or clarity and the timescales involved.

If it’s clear that the relationship doesn’t meet the criteria of a pre-existing relationship, it’s important that all parties are informed of this decision and the reasons for this. The adult/Network member shouldn’t have their appointment approved if they’re in a relationship with a young person (under 18) that doesn’t fall into this criteria. If you’re in any doubt either about the relationship or how to proceed, please contact the Safeguarding team on the contact details provided.

If you have concerns regarding any ‘relationship’ disclosed, make contact with the Safeguarding team immediately.