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Whistleblowing Policy and Procedures

The Whistleblowing policy is for all volunteers who have a serious concern in regards to a breach of our standards or conduct. This policy makes sure that if a volunteer has a serious concern, they know how to raise it as soon as possible. The matter will be comprehensively investigated and the appropriate action taken.

Scout Values

In line with its values, 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 young people.

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. Visit ‘Supporting the wellbeing and mental health when a concern is raised’ to find more support. 


Where an individual has raised a concern or several concerns which, individually or collectively, could be classified under more than one of The Scouts’ policies, it may be decided to consider them all under the same policy. The Scouts has complete discretion to decide under which of its policies a concern should be considered and their decision in relation to this is final.

Adults in Scouts are from all walks of life, but one thing that unites our volunteers is the energy and enthusiasm they have for giving young people the adventure of Scouts.

It’s the policy of The Scouts to provide a positive environment, as we know that everyone thrives in safe and supportive surroundings. We’re committed to making sure that Scouts is enjoyable and safe for everyone involved.

Scouts are committed to making sure that anyone volunteering their time are able to do so in an enjoyable and safe environment.

We recognise our duty of care to all volunteers when performing their role and taking part in our activities. We therefore promote the highest standards of transparency and accountability in everything we do. These standards are set out in our values and vision, as well as our policies and procedures.

The Whistleblowing policy is for all volunteers who have a serious concern in regards to a breach of our standards or conduct. This policy makes sure that if a volunteer has a serious concern, they know how to raise it as soon as possible. The matter will be comprehensively investigated and the appropriate action taken.

When a volunteer raises a serious concern (within the relevant categories below) that is – in their reasonable belief – in the public interest, this is known as ‘whistleblowing’, and the volunteer will be protected by this policy.

Scouts will make sure that the concern is treated confidentially and that the volunteer is protected from being victimised, discriminated against or in any way disadvantaged because of raising the concern. This policy's for any individual who holds a volunteer role and who raises a serious concern.

A volunteer means someone who gives their time, unpaid, to do activities that benefit The Scouts and includes all adult volunteers and Scout Network members.

This policy applies to any serious concern that the Employment Rights Act 1996 refers to as a ‘protected disclosure’.

A protected disclosure is where:

  • the volunteer makes a disclosure of information;
  • the volunteer reasonably believes the concern they have raised shows information within one of the relevant categories below; and
  • the volunteer reasonably believes that the concern raised is in the public interest (affecting the general public or a group of people).

The six relevant categories for serious concern are:

  1. that a criminal offence has been committed, is being committed or is likely to be committed, eg fraud;
  2. that the health and safety of an individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered;
  3. that the environment has been, is being or is likely to be damaged;
  4. that a miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur;
  5. that a person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with any legal obligation to which he is subject; or
  6. that information tending to show any matter failing within any of the above categories, is being or is likely to be deliberately concealed.

Conduct, which doesn't appear in the six relevant categories for serious concern above, that is reasonably likely to seriously harm the reputation of The Scouts will also be covered by this policy. An example may be a breach of the Codes of Conduct set out in the Code of Behaviour (The ‘Yellow Card’) that's in the public interest .

If you have concerns about the safety or wellbeing of a child or vulnerable adult, you must in the first instance follow the Safeguarding policy and the matter must be reported to the Safeguarding Team.

Crimes against a person or property should be reported immediately to the police.

Whistleblowing policy guidance

A volunteer who wishes to raise a concern that fits the criteria of a protected disclosure should follow the Whistleblowing policy. This includes if the incident is happening now, in the past or may happen in the future. It’s important that the concern is raised without delay. If any person or property is at immediate risk the police should be called immediately.

The Scouts takes the safety of our all our volunteers seriously and also values their reputation. Therefore, a report under the Whistleblowing policy will be treated with high importance. On receipt of a whistleblowing report, our procedures set out within this policy will be put into effect immediately.

The Scouts wants to make sure that any report is investigated fully and address the concerns without delay. It’s therefore essential that all volunteers respond promptly. Any volunteer or staff member contacted by an investigator in relation to a whistleblowing investigation should support that investigation by being open and timely in the information provided.

Deliberate misuse of this procedure may lead to the implementation of mutually agreed restrictions, suspension or cancellation of role.

The whistleblowing process

Whistleblowing incidents should be reported to the Deputy UK Chief Commissioner via the Volunteer whistleblowing online form.

Anyone experiencing difficulties accessing the online form should contact the Scout Information Centre on 0345 300 1818 for support.

Details required:

  • A report can be made anonymously, but The Scouts encourages the sharing of information where possible.
  • A contact telephone number and/or email address so that contact can be maintained, unless anonymity is desired.
  • Why you consider the referral to be a ‘protected disclosure’ under the Whistleblowing policy.
  • The background and history of the concern.

Volunteers or staff contacted by The Scouts to provide information in relation to a whistleblowing investigation, must respond within an agreed timeframe, laid out by the Deputy UK Chief Commissioner, in order to support the process.

The Scouts will keep the complainant (the whistleblower) updated throughout the process, where appropriate.

Action on receipt of a concern (usually within five working days):

  • Where an individual makes a whistleblowing concern, they must notify the Deputy UK Chief Commissioner using the details above.
  • Where a line manager receives a whistleblowing concern, they must notify the Deputy UK Chief Commissioner using the online form.
  • Where the report is received by the Deputy UK Chief Commissioner, they will consider the report and acknowledge receipt. They may also contact the complainant (whistleblower) for clarification.
  • The report will be logged on the register held at The Scouts’ UK headquarters.
  • Available information will be collected, including any documentation or statement supplied by the complainant (whistleblower).
  • If anonymity has been requested, the Deputy UK Chief Commissioner will decide whether anonymity will be agreed and whether the matter can be investigated within this context. Reference to the criteria in the Whistleblowing policy, Charity Commission or other relevant regulatory guidance may be utilised to make this decision.
  • An impartial investigator will be appointed by the Deputy UK Chief Commissioner.

The complainant (the whistleblower) will be provided with the following information (if they have provided contact information):

  • Confirmation as to whether the matter will be investigated under The Scouts’ volunteer whistleblowing policy.
  • If the matter will not be proceeding through this process, an update regarding what action, if any, is being taken and the reasons why.
  • The name of the investigator
  • Details of the nominated person for contact.
  • What action has been taken.
  • An indication of the anticipated timeframe to conclude the matter.
  • Information about support and protection for the complainant (whistleblower).

An impartial investigator will be appointed; they may be a volunteer, staff member or someone external to The Scouts as appropriate. The investigator will complete any enquiries required and review all relevant documentation. They may contact anyone they reasonably consider to be able to provide pertinent information. This may include volunteers, staff and/or external people such as partner organisations. If
a volunteer’s required to attend a meeting in regards to any investigation, they may request that an appropriate person attends with them to offer support.

The Deputy UK Chief Commissioner may decide to refer the investigation to a relevant external body or authority. They may also halt any investigation or hand over the enquiry to another body or authority. The complainant will be informed of this decision.

A relevant external body or authority may include (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • the police
  • the Charity Commission
  • Office of the Scottish Charity Regulato

All other matters will be investigated by the nominated investigator. All information in relation to any investigation will be treated as confidential within Scouts. A report will be compiled by the investigator and will only be shared with the Deputy UK Chief Commissioner (unless any of them are implicated in the case.) In these circumstances an appropriate alternative person will be nominated to proceed with
the review. Where appropriate the report may also be shared with the Chief Safeguarding Officer or other relevant staff members. Depending on the outcome of any investigation a decision will be made as to the appropriate action and learning.

Where the report is made in the reasonable belief that it’s in the public interest, The Scouts will take all reasonable steps to make sure that the complainant doesn’t experience any unfavourable treatment and that they are supported throughout any investigation.

If an individual experiences victimisation, discrimination or any unfavourable treatment from volunteers, staff or any member of The Scouts, this must be immediately reported to the contact dealing with the investigation.

In order to maintain confidentiality and in keeping with our legal obligations, it may not always be possible to let the complainant (whistleblower) know the outcome of any investigation, but they will be informed when the investigation has been completed.

In all cases, The Scouts will use the whistleblowing register to monitor progress and keep track of any investigation and any actions that need to be taken. The Deputy UK Chief Commissioner will manage the progress and provide accountability.

The Register must be kept updated, stating:

  • The name and status of the whistleblower
  • The date on which The Scouts received the whistleblower’s report of an incident
  • The nature of the whistleblowing incident
  • Details of the person who received the whistleblowing report
  • Whether it is to be investigated and by whom
  • The outcome of the investigation
  • Learning identified from the incident
  • What action or change has been implemented as a result of the incident

Any recommendations to be considered and by when The Register will be confidential and only an anonymised version will be made available for inspection by the Board of Trustees.

The Deputy UK Chief Commissioner will report annually to the Board of Trustees on the operation of the Whistleblowing policy and any allegations made during the period covered by the report. The identity of the complainant will remain confidential in any report for the Board.

All whistleblowing matters will be treated in confidence. The Scouts will not reveal the identity of the complainant (whistleblower) other than to the Deputy UK Chief Commissioner and the nominated investigator. There may be circumstances when The Scouts will be required to identify the complainant:

  • Where there is a duty to refer to statutory agencies.
  • Where the matter results in court proceedings and the complainant is required to give evidence.
  • Where it is required in order to progress an investigation.
  • if the matter is subsequently handled under a different process (eg complaints/safeguarding procedure).

Every effort will be taken by The Scouts to notify the complainant if the above becomes applicable. This is in-line with The Scouts’ GDPR guidance.

Within The Scouts, if an individual has a serious concern, it’s better to be informed anonymously than not at all. However, in order for a thorough investigation to take place and for claims to be substantiated, it is always preferable for the complainant to supply their details.

Where a potential complainant wishes to remain anonymous, it will be considered at the discretion of the Deputy UK Chief Commissioner. In exercising this discretion, the following will be taken into account:

  • the seriousness of the issue raised
  • the credibility of the allegation; and
  • whether the allegation can realistically be investigated from factors or sources other than those provided by the complainant.

The Scouts acknowledges that it can be difficult to report a serious concern and that a volunteer may have anxieties or fears about this. Those who raise a serious concern in the reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so, can expect to be protected from any discrimination, recrimination, victimisation or any unfavourable treatment from The Scouts, as a result of coming forward.

If anyone should attempt to stop, discourage or in any way victimise a person reporting a concern that they reasonably believe to be in the public interest, they would themselves be subject to the relevant procedures.

The Scouts strongly encourages any individual to report a concern using the whistleblowing procedure.
The aim of this policy is to provide an internal mechanism for reporting, investigating and remedying any wrongdoing. In most cases, you shouldn’t find it necessary to alert anyone externally.

In some instances, an individual may wish to inform an external prescribed body or the Charity Commission. However, this is usually only appropriate where an individual believes their concern has not been taken seriously by The Scouts and/or the matter raised is continuing. The independent whistleblowing charity Protect, operates a confidential helpline. They also have a list of prescribed regulators for reporting certain types of concern. Their contact details are at the end of this policy.

The Scouts have made a commitment to having a robust whistleblowing process for volunteers and would always encourage anyone with concerns to raise the matter through this whistleblowing process. The Scouts acknowledges that utilising the media (including social media) may be a route that an individual may consider rather than engage with this process. The Scouts strongly advises that any volunteer seek
specialist advice before considering communicating their concerns to the media or using social media as doing so may have serious repercussions in certain circumstances.

If after an investigation, no wrongdoing is found, there will not be any negative consequences for the complainant, provided the individual had a reasonable belief that it was in the public interest to make the disclosure. If the disclosure was made maliciously, for personal gain or there was no element of public interest, there would be no protection under the Whistleblowing policy.

This policy does not replace other policies or procedures. If a volunteer has a concern or complaint which isn’t a protected disclosure, this concern should still be raised through the correct policy.

If at the end of the whistleblowing process, the complainant (the whistleblower) isn’t satisfied with the outcome, they may appeal the decision. An individual has grounds for appeal if they believe that the correct process hasn’t been followed or has new information that they wish to be considered. In these instances, the individual may appeal to the UK Chief Commissioner. This must be done within 30 days of the date of the outcome being sent. The appeal must be in writing and forwarded via email or by post to Gilwell Park, Chingford, London, E4 7QW; the envelope should be marked ‘Whistleblowing policy’.

The independent whistleblowing charity Protect operates a confidential helpline.

Other contacts include: 

Charity Commission - telephone 0300 065 2199
Protect – telephone 020 3117 2520 or email
NSPCC whistleblowing advice line for professionals


This policy is in-line with the Employment Rights Act 1996. The Act gives legal protection to employees. It does not apply to volunteers and members of charitable organisations. However, under this policy the same protection is given to our volunteers, provided the conditions are met for the policy to apply.


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 alongside other relevant policies by the Safeguarding Committee and revisions will be recommended to the Board of Trustees.