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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

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Photography and video recording at Scout events

How to keep children and young people safe when creating and using digital content

It’s great for children and young people have images of their special moments and Scouting achievements to look back on, and creating digital content to promote Scouts helps to increase engagement with current and potential members.

When working with children and young people, it’s important to be aware of safeguarding risks around taking photos and videos. Children can be identified for the purpose of future grooming and abuse, and images can be modified or misused out of context.

It’s essential to have safe processes in place to protect children and young people.


Children and young people should always be consulted about the use of their image and give consent to it being taken, used or shared. It's also advisable to get written consent from a parent or carer before taking a photo or video. If children, young people and/or their parents or carers don’t want to have their photo or video taken, used or shared, you should respect their wishes. Some families may prefer not to have photos of their children taken.

The young person information form helps you to capture consent and can be used as part of your local joining processes. The form requests consent from parents or carers and their wishes around photography or recordings of their child. You can find more guidance on gathering data in our GDPR toolkit step 5.

Some reasons families may prefer not to have photos of their children taken are:

  • A child's identity may need to be protected because they are in local authority care or have been adopted.
  • A child and/or their family might have experienced abuse and may worry about images being shared online, enabling the perpetrator of abuse to trace their whereabouts.
  • Families may have religious or cultural reasons for choosing not to have photos or videos taken, or their preference could simply be down to personal choice.

How to manage situations when consent isn’t given

Children and young people should never be excluded from an activity because you don’t have consent to take their photo or video. Instead, find a way to make sure anyone filming or taking photographs is aware of who hasn’t given consent for their image to be used. For example: 

  • Give children a sticker or a badge, or you could add a note to their event lanyard or name badge to help identify them.
  • Take photographs in smaller groups rather than an entire group so that less attention is drawn to the young person who cannot be in photographs.
  • Consider splitting the activity group up into two and the photographer can photograph the group where everyone has given consent across all activities.
  • Involve the young person who can't be in photographs in taking the photographs of others.

Consent at large-scale events

Consent may also be obtained independently as part of event registrations or other Scouting activities. On occasion, it's not practical or even possible to have gained formal consent from every individual who may feature in photography, video and audio.

An example could be large-scale event where the volume of attendees is high, and the event is spread over a large area. It is likely that photography and video will be captured at an event like this.

In these situations, it's advisable to inform individuals of your intentions regarding photography and video at the entrance or around the event area; this can be as visual signage or literature handed out around or even before the event.

If a parent or carer doesn’t give consent for photography or recording at a large scale event, it’s important to be clear from the outset that a picture might be taken and their child could appear in the background.

It's good practice to remind parents and carers in your communications or as part of event registrations to show respect to other families, reminding them not to take and post images of other people's children on social media.

Sharing images of children on social media or other online platforms carries potential risks. For example:

  • Photos or videos may appear in internet search results. This could make children vulnerable to grooming if a photograph appears alongside information that makes them identifiable. This includes personal details, such as their name, a tag with location information, or visual details such as their Scout uniform.
  • Images may be copied, downloaded or shared by anyone. They may be adapted using AI and used inappropriately.
  • Photos or videos, and any comments on them, can become part of a child’s public image in ways which young people may not be happy with, now or in the future.

It’s important to think carefully before using or sharing any images showing children or young people online or other publications. Make sure you have consent from the parent or carer and the young person to use the image the way you have planned.

Deciding what images to use

When picking your photos, keep these things in mind:

  • You don't always need to show young people's faces to show Scout activities in action. Taking photographs from different angles without showing faces can still produce excellent images.
  • Choose images that present the activity in a positive light and focus on the activity rather than the child.
  • Choose images of children in appropriate clothing (including safety wear if necessary).
  • Don’t supply full names of children along with the images.
  • Avoid images that may be more prone to misinterpretation or misuse by others.
  • Avoid publishing personal information about individual children and disguise any identifying information.

When digital assets may be used for a very public purpose, such as specific marketing or an editorial, an overarching release form will ensure that consent is captured for digital assets of an individual and is the ideal solution for advertising, marketing and media coverage. 

A release form is not a legal requirement, as the copyright of an image belongs to the photographer and not the subject, nevertheless, it's considered best practise and is a good way to prove consent for managing personal data. A written log and evidence of consent is preferable but if this isn’t practical, a log of their name, date and what it was for, as a verbal consent is sufficient. In most cases, this will be provided directly by the professional capturing the digital assets, however if this is something you're doing locally, the template consent form can be used as a guide.

Scouting needs publicity and a picture is worth a thousand words. A newspaper photographer attending a Scout event will usually request that the imagery they capture is accompanied by the names of the individuals in the photographs. It's important that consent is obtained by them using a release form in advance to avoid any confusion or disappointment. It's acceptable to give full names and age to external media companies with the consent of a parent or carer, but never provide the full address of the young person. For group photos, ask the media company to use a collective term such as “Cub Scouts from the 6th Anywhere Scout Group”. Photographs taken by press photographers that invade personal privacy are subject to the normal IPSO Code of Practice.

Managing digital assets

Under the GDPR, you need a process that helps you find and delete personal data at a later date. When you capture content, find a way to link your content with an individual. Use a simple name board in front of the lens or record a short message to assist you. Label your content with the activity or event, date and location to help provide a reference.

Labelling can be achieved via file metadata or by renaming the file and folders. Store a copy of your permission form with consent paragraph, or your release form (for advertising, marketing or media coverage) in the same place as the related photo, video and audio content. Once you have labelled your consented content, ensure you dispose of any remaining materials.

In addition, the following should be used as a guide:

  • Photography, videos and audio of no use should be removed at source or in any copies when not needed.
  • When using cloud services for storage, use a reputable provider with guaranteed storage in the UK or EEA. 
  • You need the ability to add metadata to the imagery or organise them so you can capture, names, event names, dates, consent evidence.
  • Password protect (with strong passwords, minimum of 8 characters, with some complexity).
  • Use photographic devices that are under the control of the person who gained the consent and manages the images where possible.

Undertake an audit of your existing digital content to ensure it is labelled with event details including a date and location. If you have relevant and existing personal consent for photos, video and audio, store this data alongside relevant content and store your content using the advice above.

If anyone requests you to delete content, ask them for details of any events or activities they took part in, and request a photo that will help you identify them, then delete their personal data.