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Making a complaint about Scouting

Information for people considering making a complaint about Scouting

The Scouts has a policy in place to ensure that complaints are taken seriously and dealt with appropriately.

This guide describes how to make a complaint and how your complaint will be dealt with. It is the policy of Scouts to have a fair and open process for dealing with concerns raised by members and non-members that directly affect them or their children in Scouting.

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 non-members, 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 about supporting mental health in Scouting on our Mental Health webpage.

Informal Resolution

Many complainants do not want to enter a formal complaints procedure. They simply want to have their questions answered, their concerns dealt with, or their opinion noted.

Informal resolution may be as simple as the complainant having a conversation with the local volunteer manager before making a formal complaint to discuss how a concern raised can be resolved.

If a complainant feels it is appropriate, they may be willing to meet with the individual they are raising the concern against with the support of a local volunteer to see if an amicable solution can be found.

Local, informal resolution should always be attempted before engaging in the formal complaints policy.

What complaints are accepted?

We accept complaints about how you have been treated by Scouting or, if you are a parent or carer of a young person, how that young person has been treated by Scouting. We have a few basic rules for the acceptance of complaints:

  • Complaints will only be accepted within three months of the date that the complainant reasonably knew enough facts to report the issue.
  • If there’s reasonable belief that a complaint is vexatious or malicious, then it won’t be progressed.
  • Complaints broadly or substantively the same as a previous complaint raised under any of Scouts’ policies will not be progressed.

Making a complaint

For paid Scouts staff:

Complaints in relation to Scouts staff and matters relating to headquarters at Gilwell Park (HQ) will be handled by the relevant line manager and/or Director and, where appropriate, the Chief Executive or senior staff member in accordance with this policy and/or relevant employee policies. Complaints related to HQ can be submitted online.

Complaints about volunteers or local matters:

Formal complaints should be made in writing (physically or digitally) wherever possible to the most appropriate volunteer line manager. This could include the Group Scout Leader (GSL), District Commissioner, County Commissioner or Regional Commissioner. If you do not know the name and / or contact details of who to raise the complaint to, please contact the Scout Support Centre

Complaints should ideally be made on the Complaints Template

The complaint should include:

  • Complainant’s full name.
  • Complainant’s contact details.
  • How the complainant would like to be contacted in relation to the complaint.
  • Complainant’s relationship to the Scouts e.g. member or parent.
  • A summary of the complaint and what they think went wrong, including dates and times or any reported incidents.
  • Clear and concise statements of what they would like to be investigated.
  • Details of any informal resolution that has been taken so far to try to resolve the issue.
  • Details of what they would see as an acceptable outcome.
  • Details of any formal concerns already raised in any part of Scouts under any of the policies.

Scouts’ complaint template asks that complaints be kept to no more than 1,000 words in length and complainants are encouraged to keep within this limit. Supplementary documentation may be requested at a later stage as part of the investigation process.

Response to complaints

We handle complaints in a positive and proactive manner and expect resolutions and outcomes to contribute to a process of continuous improvement.

Please bear in mind that adults in Scouting are volunteers and have other calls on their time. It may therefore take a little longer to sort out your complaint, however you will be kept informed of the progress of the complaint with an acknowledgement of a formal complaint within seven days and regular updates (typically at least every 14 days).

The investigator may need to speak to you and a number of other people to fully understand your complaint and the circumstances surrounding it.

The manager will make a decision about the complaint and will inform you whether your complaint is upheld or not and the actions that will be taken as a result.

If you are not satisfied

If you or those who are directly affected by the outcome of a complaint are not satisfied with the outcome of the original complaint or the process undertaken, there is a right for appeal. Only one appeal is allowed per person directly affected by a complaint and if multiple appeals raise the same concerns they may be carried out as one appeal.

Any appeal must be received within 14 days of you, or those directly affected, being notified of the outcome of the original complaint. Appeals should ideally be made on the appeals template.

Contact details of who to make an appeal to will be contained within the complaint response and appeals must be directed to the most appropriate and most local volunteer manager at the next management level of Scouts. The appropriate volunteer manager can then decide whether they’ll manage the appeal themselves or delegate to one of their deputies or assistants to manage the appeal.

Read the Complaints Policy and other resources to help managers handling complaints.

Anti-Bullying and Whistleblowing

Scouts acknowledges that it can be a difficult decision to report a concern of bullying and/or harassment about someone known to you. A volunteer may also feel unsure about whether the behaviour they are experiencing or witnessing amounts to bullying or harassment.

However, it’s important that action is taken promptly in order to prevent the situation deteriorating. All concerns raised should be done in-line with the Scouts Complaints Policy.

The Whistleblowing policy is for all volunteers who have a serious concern in regard 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.