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Policy, Organisation and Rules


The Founder of Scouting had a vision from which a Movement has grown, so that Scouting is found today in every corner of the land.

The purpose of Scouting is to actively engage and support young people in their personal development, empowering them to make a positive contribution to society.

These skills for life are developed 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 programme in each of these Sections is delivered by a volunteer Section Leadership Team working in partnership with the young people in their Section. 

The function of all the other volunteers within our Movement is to support the delivery and quality of those programmes in each of our Sections.

With approximately 7,500 Scout Groups in the United Kingdom and its dependent territories, a support structure is clearly necessary.  The main purpose of Policy, Organisation and Rules is to explain as simply as possible how that structure is organised.

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.

It is important that everyone concerned strives to exercise that judgement in ways that encourage the development and growth of the Movement.

Policy, Organisation and Rules (POR) lays down the structure of The Scout Association in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar. It defines information about training and management.

Each Rule is distinguished by a Rule number, which references the Chapter in which it is located. 

Matters of policy, information and advice on good practice are generally unnumbered.

Policies are authoritative statements of principle governing the work of the Scout Movement.

Rules provide directives, which must be followed by all to whom the Rule is addressed.

There are many opportunities for local decisions to be made under a wide range of headings. The devolution of authority to Counties, Districts and Groups is clearly indicated where appropriate.

It is important that the exercise of that authority is not frustrated by the imposition of local rules. It must also be noted that the law of the land is paramount.

Information provides a statement of fact, which does not require action on the part of the reader. For example, the chapter on the Association's Headquarters is provided for interest and understanding only.

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 Councils and Group Executive Committees exactly as the Rules require.

However, many years of experience have dictated what is good practice and what works well, and wherever advice is given it should be followed if at all possible.


These definitions explain some terms that are used in POR.


The person applying for a particular role.

Appointments advisory committee

The sub-committee of the relevant executive committee that supports the process of appointing adults in the Scouts.

Appointments chair

The chair of the relevant appointments advisory committee.

Appointment panel

The body that meets with applicants for roles in the Scouts.

Appointments secretary

The secretary of the relevant appointments advisory committee. The appointments secretary is responsible for the administration of the appointments processes.

Associate Member

Refers to an associate member of The Scout Association. An associate member is also an associate member of their local group, district, county, region, and country, where applicable.

British Scouting Overseas

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

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.

Connected person

A member, associate member, or non-member of the Scouts.

Country Headquarters

This is:

  • for England, British Scouting Overseas and Gibraltar, UK Headquarters
  • for Northern Ireland, the headquarters of the Northern Ireland Scout Council
  • for Scotland, the headquarters of The Scottish Council of The Scout Association
  • for Wales, the headquarters of the Welsh Scout Council


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, and should be read as:

  • Area, in Wales and British Scouting Overseas
  • Bailiwick of Guernsey
  • Branch, in the Overseas Branches, including Gibraltar
  • Island (Jersey or the Isle of Man)
  • Scottish Region, in Scotland

Criminal records check

An official record stating a person's criminal convictions.

For England and Wales, this is a DBS check. For Scotland, this is a PVG check. For Northern Ireland, this is an AccessNI check.


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.


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

Key words for requirements (must, should, and may)

Rules in POR use key words to indicate requirements for rules.

“Must” means that adherence to the rule is an absolute requirement and non-optional.

“Should” means that the rule is strongly recommended, with an expectation of adherence. However, circumstances might justify an alternative approach.

“May” means that the rule is a truly optional suggestion or approach.  It will often be a statement of good practice.


Refers to a member of The Scout Association. A member is also 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.

Personal enquiry

Vetting checks for adults. A valid criminal records check must be held at all times, and a confidential enquiry check is required on starting each new role.

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 and 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.


A region is a scout unit that supports delivery of the programme within a certain geographic area in England or Wales.

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.

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

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.

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 however 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 document 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 is one 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 – 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.


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 16.5.2.

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 to not be considered unsupervised.


The process of comparing what an adult does in their role against a set of requirements and deciding whether their performance matches those requirements.


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