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Policy, Organisation and Rules


These definitions explain terms that are used in POR.

Must, should, and may

POR uses key words to indicate obligations for rules.

‘Must’ means that adherence to the rule is mandatory.

‘Should’ means that the rule is strongly recommended, with an expectation of adherence.  However, circumstances might justify an alternative approach.  This minimum good practice guidance should be followed unless there is a good reason not to.  It is good practice for such ‘good reasons’ to be agreed and recorded by the local governance team (Group, District, County executive committee or Country Board as appropriate).

‘May’ means that the rule is optional.  It indicates less formal advice and recommendations which may be found helpful in the management or governance of your Group, District, County or country.


A volunteer aged 18 or over.  This is a person with an adult member appointment (see the Chapter 16 Roles Table) or a Scout Network member. 


The person applying for a particular role.

Appointments advisory committee (AAC)

The sub-committee of the relevant Trustee Board that supports the process of appointing adults in the Scouts.  The appointments advisory committee is a mandatory sub-committee for all Districts and counties.  Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and UK Headquarters also have AACs.  Each AAC should have at least two members aged between 18 and 25, and the AAC membership must comply with the Equal Opportunities Policy.  To prevent conflicts of interest, these roles must not be a member of an appointments advisory committee:

  • District Commissioner
  • District Chair
  • County Commissioner
  • County Chair

Appointments chair

The person appointed by the relevant Trustee Board to chair the appointments advisory committee.

Appointment panel

A panel of three people drawn from the appointments advisory committee which meets with a person applying for an appointment in the Scouts.  It is good practice for a member of the panel to be aged under 25, and for the panel to have a diverse mix of members, including someone currently in a programme role.

Appointments secretary

The person appointed by the relevant Trustee Board to be responsible for the appointment process administration.

British Scouting Overseas

British Scout Groups that operate abroad and are part of The Scout Association.


Bullying is characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, abuse or misuse of power through means that a recipient is:

  • undermined
  • humiliated
  • denigrated
  • injured

It is not classed as bullying if a line manager is solely making sure a person follows the rules in POR.  It is more than a strong, firm or authoritarian interaction.  It is:

  • destructive rather than constructive
  • a criticism of the person rather than their mistakes
  • public humiliation rather than private correction
  • where the recipient feels threatened or compromised

See also Volunteer Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy and Procedures

Confidential enquiry check

The process used by the UK Headquarters vetting team to check volunteers against records held at UK Headquarters.  Also known as a CE check.

Conflict of interest

A conflict of interest is when someone’s judgement or actions are, or could be, affected by personal involvement or other interest relating to the matter at hand.  This includes any circumstances that affect, or could be seen to affect, someone’s independence or impartiality.

For Trustees:
All trustees have a legal duty to act only in the best interests of their charity.  If there is a decision to be made where a trustee has a personal or other interest, this is a conflict of interest.

Conflict of interest can lead to decisions that are not in the best interests of the charity and which are invalid or open to challenge.  Conflicts of interest can also damage a charity’s reputation or public trust and confidence in charities generally.  These harmful effects can be prevented where individual trustees can identify conflicts of interest, and the trustee body can act to prevent them from affecting their decision making.

See also:

Connected person

A member, or non-member of the Scouts.


Every charity must have a governing document, in the Scouts we call this a constitution.

Country Headquarters

  • For England (including Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey), British Scouting Overseas and Gibraltar: this is UK Headquarters
  • For Northern Ireland: this is the headquarters of the Northern Ireland Scout Council 
  • For Scotland: this is the headquarters of The Scottish Council of The Scout Association 
  • For Wales: this is the headquarters of ScoutsCymru 


A County is a Scout unit that supports delivery of the programme within a certain geographic area.  A County has various responsibilities as defined in POR, including providing support to Scout Groups and Districts.  For ease of reading POR refers to ‘County’ in all cases, but the word County should be read as:

  1. Area (in Wales and British Scouting Overseas)
  2. Bailiwick (of Guernsey)
  3. Branch (Gibraltar)
  4. County (in England and in Northern Ireland; note that the Isle of Wight is an English County) 
  5. Island (Jersey, the Isle of Man)
  6. Region (in Scotland)

Criminal records check

A criminal records check will show any spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings together with any information held by local police that’s considered relevant to the role.

A criminal records check will generate an official record (a ‘disclosure’).

For England and Wales, the criminal records check process is conducted by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

For Scotland, the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme is managed and delivered by Disclosure Scotland.

For Northern Ireland, the checks are conducted by AccessNI, which is a branch in the Department of Justice.


A District is a Scout unit that supports delivery of the programme within a certain geographic area.  A District has various responsibilities as defined in POR, including providing support to Scout Groups.

Ex officio

Ex officio means ‘by virtue of the office’ and refers to a role that comes with someone’s ‘main role’.  For example, a Group Scout Leader is also an ex officio member of the Group Trustee Board.

Gross misconduct

Gross misconduct has no strict legal definition.  In the Scouts it is interpreted as observed practices that are a very clear breach of the Values of Scouting such as:

  • theft
  • physical violence
  • gross negligence
  • serious insubordination
  • behaviour that destroys relationships with other volunteers or staff such as bullying and harassment

Gross misconduct can cause physical and emotional damage to individuals and reputational damage to the Scouts and any connected person.

This guidance is a general overview of the subject of gross misconduct and the examples above are to help understanding – they do not cover every eventuality.


A Group is a Scout unit that supports delivery of the programme within a local community.  Groups are made up of sections.


Harassment is ‘unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating people’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment’ (Equality Act 2010). 

Harassment may be conduct based on characteristics including:

  • age
  • class or socio-economic status
  • ethnic or national origin, nationality (or statelessness) or race
  • gender (including gender reassignment)
  • marital or civil partnership status
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • political belief
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • religion, belief or faith (including the absence of religion, belief or faith)
  • sex
  • colour
  • language
  • social background
  • non-relevant criminal background

The list above is neither exhaustive nor exclusive.

Harassment can take many forms - for example verbal and/or written abuse, ignoring or subjugating colleagues to unwanted attention, ridiculing and humiliating colleagues in front of others, mocking, mimicking or belittling a person.

A person may be harassed even if they were not the intended ‘target.’  For example, a person may be harassed by racist jokes about a different ethnic group if the jokes create an offensive environment.

See also Volunteer Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy and Procedures.


A helper is a person aged 18 or over who is not a member but provides informal support to help deliver the programme. They may be, for example, parents or local subject matter experts. A helper must have a satisfactory Personal Enquiry and recorded in the adult membership system before they can help with a regulated activity.


A young person in any section who has made the Promise appropriate to the first section they join.  They are a member of the Scout Association and are a member of their local Group, District, County, Region, and country, where applicable.

An adult whose role requires them to be a member having completed both the appointment process and members’ declaration, and made the Scout Promise. They are a member of The Scout Association and are a member of their local Group, District, County, Region, and country, where applicable.

Members of the Scout and Guide movements

Members of an organisation recognised by the World Organisation of the Scout movement or the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Overseas Branches

Refers to parts of The Scout Association that are established in certain territories overseas.


The word parent should be interpreted as parent, guardian or carer (as appropriate for the young person concerned).

Personal enquiry

Vetting checks for  people aged 18 or over where they will be involved with regulated activity or are trustees.  For these people, a satisfactory criminal records check must be held at all times, and a confidential enquiry check is required on starting each new role.


The abbreviation of Policy, Organisation and Rules.

The programme

This describes the selection of activities and experiences provided in the Sections for youth members.  It is based around three main themes:

  • outdoor and adventure
  • world
  • skills

The programme is designed to be progressive through the sections to offer young people an appropriate level of challenge.  It should be delivered in a balanced way that incorporates elements from each theme.

A range of badges and awards exists in each section, covering the three main themes as well as leadership, teamwork and personal development.


The minimum number of people necessary to make decisions.

In a charity this number is often set out in the charity’s governing document.


A Region is a Scout unit that supports delivery of the programme within a geographic area in England or Wales.  For Regions in Scotland, see definition of County.

Regional Commissioner

A volunteer who leads a Region in England or Wales.  This role does not exist in Northern Ireland and Scotland, so references to it in those countries should be read as Chief Commissioner.  For the purposes of POR, Region (Scotland) Commissioners are County Commissioners.

Regional Services Team

Staff employed by UK Headquarters to support volunteer line managers in growing and developing Scouting at a local level in England.

Regulated Activity

Scouts is a regulated activity provider and must comply with the law in respect to adults engaging with children. Regulated activity with children refers to work that a barred person must not do.  Regulated Activity is defined in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.  Regulated activity in Scouts means where a person aged 18 or over meets any of these criteria:]:

  • will be a member of a Trustee Board

  • will be assisting with overnight activities (including Nights Away)

  • may be helping out once a week (or on four occasions in a thirty-day period) or more frequently

  • will have unsupervised access to young people.

Any adult or helper delivering or likely to participate in regulated activity must hold a satisfactory Personal Enquiry.

Relevant commissioner

The commissioner for the Scout unit in which the role is located.  For example, the relevant commissioner for an Assistant County Commissioner - Beaver Support would be the County Commissioner.  For Scout Groups, the relevant commissioner is the District Commissioner, not the Group Scout Leader.


A volunteer role within the Scouts.  The full list of the available roles is contained in the roles table.

Role holder

The person who holds a given role, which has been successfully appointed under Rule 16.1.

Scottish Variations

This refers to amendments to POR in Scotland to reflect the different organisational structure.  Where such amendments apply, the rule is marked by a superscript SV, and Scottish readers must consult the Scottish Variations from POR for the relevant text.

Scout unit

A Group, District, County, Region, country, or nations’ equivalents.


This describes a single unit of Scouting delivering the programme to young people.  These are a Squirrel Drey, a Beaver Colony, a Cub Pack, a Scout Troop, an Explorer Unit and a Scout Network.  If multiple Dreys, Colonies, Packs, Troops, Units, or Networks exist within the same Group or District, each one is an independent section.


Most commonly, it means either the organisational structure or the volunteer line management hierarchy.  This is a key part of the federated structure of the Scouts.

The organisational structure is the structuring of Scout units: section, Group, District, County, region, country, UK.  Each level of the structure is responsible for supporting the programme in a smaller area, with Districts responsible for Groups, Counties responsible for Districts, and so on.

There are some exceptions to the general structure:

  • in Scotland, the structure is Group, District, Scottish region, country, UK.
  • in Northern Ireland, there are no regions.
  • there are a number of counties with Groups but no Districts.

The volunteer line management hierarchy refers to the volunteer manager of each of these units: Group Scout Leader, District Commissioner, County Commissioner, Regional Commissioner, Chief Commissioner (Country), UK Chief Commissioner.  Each of these volunteer managers is helped by a team who work to support the delivery of the programme in their areas.


A sub-committee is a small group of people assigned by a Trustee Board to focus on a particular task or area, such as finance or fundraising or property maintenance.  A sub-committee generally makes recommendations to the Trustee Board for decision.  Any decisions made by a sub-committee remain the responsibility of the whole Trustee Board.


An adult who is a charity trustee within the Scouts, as defined in a group, District, County, country, or UK Headquarters’ constitution.

UK Headquarters

This refers to the Headquarters of The Scout Association in the United Kingdom.

Unsatisfactory service

Service in a role that would be grounds for ending the role under Rule  See also Rules and

Unsupervised access

When around youth members, an adult must have a valid criminal records check or be within sight and hearing of another adult who holds a valid criminal records check.


The process where a Training Adviser checks what an adult has learned, and that they can apply the skills that they have acquired to their role.  Validation is essential for every training module.  In some cases, the validation is conducted as part of an online module, with a validation certificate issued at the end of the learning.


An adult who holds at least one non-paid role with the Scouts.

Young person  

A young member aged between their 4th and 18th birthdays.