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Policy, Organisation and Rules


1. The Founder of the Scouts had a vision from which a movement has grown, so that the Scouts is found today across the United Kingdom, and in several overseas locations.

2. The purpose of the Scouts is to actively engage and support young people in their personal development, empowering them to make a positive contribution to society. By being in Scouts, adults and young people develop skills for life through participation in a programme, underpinned by our method, and delivered principally in Squirrel Dreys, Beaver Colonies, Cub Packs, Scout Troops, Explorer Units and Scout Networks. The function of all the other adults within our movement is to support the delivery and quality of those programmes in each of our approximately 27,000 sections. The programme in each section is delivered by a volunteer Section Leadership Team working in partnership with the young people in their section so that they can take part in fun indoor and outdoor activities. They learn by doing, by sharing in spiritual reflection and by taking responsibility. They make choices, undertake new and challenging activities, and they live their Scout Promise.

3. To deliver the programme, an organisational structure is clearly necessary. Sections are organised into Groups, which in turn are organised into Districts all managed within Counties.  All of these sit within overarching regional and national structures that make up The Scout Association.   Each Group, District and County is a separate charity each with their own trustee board, but within a federation of charities operating under the auspices of a Royal Charter.

4. The main purpose of Policy, Organisation and Rules is to describe how the Scouts is structured, organised, managed and governed.

It is impossible to set out in detail rules to cover every eventuality, which means that much depends upon the judgement of responsible people at every level of the movement. Everyone concerned should strive to exercise that judgement in ways that encourage the development and growth of the Scouts, and the safe delivery of programme.

5. Policy, Organisation and Rules (POR) applies in all parts of The Scout Association in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar and British Scouting Overseas. It is structured as follows:

  1. Each Rule is distinguished by a Rule number, which references the Chapter in which it is located.
  2. Matters of policy, information and advice on good practice are also numbered.
  3. Policies are authoritative statements of principle governing the work of Scouts.
  4. Rules provide directives, which must be followed by all to whom the Rule is applicable. Within POR, Rules are numbered paragraphs that contain the word ‘must'.
  5. There are many opportunities for local decisions to be made for a wide range of subjects. The delegation of authority to Counties, Districts and Groups is clearly indicated where appropriate.
  6. The exercise of that authority must not be frustrated by the imposition of local rules.
  7. It must also be noted that the law of the land is paramount. Following POR rules ensures that such laws, as they apply to Scouts, are complied with.
  8. POR also provides information - a statement of fact, which does not require action on the part of the reader. It is recognised that some matters may be difficult to follow in certain circumstances. For example, in some very rural areas and in some inner cities, where numbers of supporters may be small, it may not be possible to constitute Group Scout Councils and Group Trustee Boards exactly as the Rules require.  However, many years of experience have shown what is good practice and what works well, and wherever advice is given it should be followed as close to the definition in POR as possible.