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Keeping young people safe

All you need to know about safety and safeguarding

The first night away from home. The first hike. The first trip abroad.

All of these moments are great for developing young people’s confidence, but we know how daunting it can be the one packing their overnight bag and waving them off at the gates. And we know it doesn’t necessarily get easier as they grow. 

Young people thrive in secure surroundings, at home and away. Wherever we go, we’re serious about keeping them safe.  

As a parent or carer, you’re bound to have questions about how we do this. Read on to find out more.

For volunteers

Our yellow cardSafety guidance

Any concerns? Contact safeguarding@scouts.org.uk or call us on 0345 300 1818

Adventurous Activities

What are personal activity permits?

Personal activity permits are a type of permit that recognises a young person’s ability to safely take part in an adventurous activity without the need for supervision from others.

Unlike a a leadership or supervisory permit which allows you to lead an activity for other people. A personal permit only allows you to carry out the activity for yourself, not to lead anyone else. So you can only take part in the activity with others holding personal activity permits.

There is no minimum age to gain a permit (as there isn’t for leadership and supervisory permits). It is based on the technical skills and personal suitability of the individual. However, personal permits have no use once someone is 18 as they then come under the rules of adult groups in adventurous activities.

What info should I include in a courtesy email?

Where activities do not require an Adventurous Activity Notification we ask that for all meetings taking outside of the normal meeting time or venue that you email the district team to advise us of this. The reason we ask this is because we love hearing about all the fantastic things you get up to and it helps should an emergency arise.

This email does not need to particularly long or detailed but should include:

  • What you are doing
  • Where you are going
  • When you are going (date and time)
  • Who is the leader in charge
  • Approx size of the group i.e. is it the whole section or just a small group?
  • How to get hold of you in an emergency / your InTouch procedure

What is InTouch?

InTouch is the system that helps you to communicate at all Scout activities and events. It’s flexible and lets Units, Groups and Sections work out the best way to keep in touch during these activities.

At any Scouting activity, you will need to make sure that you have an InTouch system in place (POR 9.3). This is to make sure that:

  • everyone involved knows how Leaders, participants and people not at the event will communicate
  • you have all of the details of who is at the event just in case something goes wrong, and you have a system in place in case of an emergency.

This system is likely to be different depending on what activity or event you are running, and the needs of who will be there. An InTouch system is important so that everyone knows of the process for every Scouting event.

More info

Who/when do I need to notify?

Last updated: 23 March 2021

  1. Group Scout Leaders are responsible for authorising all activities that take place in Beaver, Cub and Scout sections in their Group (with the exception of those mentioned elsewhere in this document). Group Scouts Leaders* will need to see and consider every section’s programme and section leaders have a responsibility to ensure Online Scout Manager is kept up to date in good time with sufficient detail including risk assessments.
  2. The District Explorer Scout Commissioner is responsible for authorising all activities that take place in Explorer Scout Units in the District (with the exception of those mentioned elsewhere in this document). The District Explorer Scout Commissioner* will need to see and consider every Unit’s programme and section leaders have a responsibility to ensure Online Scout Manager is kept up to date in good time with sufficient detail including risk assessments.
  3. The District Scout Network Commissioner is responsible for authorising all activities that take place in Scout Network in the District (with the exception of those mentioned elsewhere in this document). The District Scout Network Commissioner* will need to see and consider the Unit’s programme.
  4. If, in any instance, a Group Scout Leader, the District Explorer Scout Commissioner, the District Scout Network Commissioner is unsure whether to authorise a particular activity, they must discuss it with the District Commissioner or their delegate.
  5. In any of the following circumstances an Adventurous Activity Notification must be submitted via https://mwscouts.org/aan to ensure all the the information provided on the form complies with the requirements for that particular activity. Once notified, the District Commissioner will seek appropriate advice on suitability ahead of approving the activity to take place:
    • In the opinion of the GSL/DESC/DSNC/ASU Manager, the activity presents a greater risk to participants than ‘general’ Scout activities e.g. a hike, bike ride or other adventurous activity (even if it takes place in Terrain 0 or does not necessarily require a permit see POR 9.28POR 9.77FS120426).
    • The activity is provided by an ‘External’ or commercial provider (see POR 9.9FS120086). 
    • The activity requires a leader with an activity permit (incl. activities in “Specialist Terrain” under POR 9.31,  FS120084).
    • The activity requires additional third party insurance (Factsheet FS120084) e.g. Motorsports. 
    • The activity requires a notification to HQ e.g. Air Activities, GoKarting, Trampolining (FS120084).
    • The activity is a High ropes activity (see POR 9.78FS120423).
    • The activity takes place on or near bodies of water (including class C FS120623 and swimming pools FS120620).
    • The activity involves a public performance e.g. Gangshow (see POR 9.22)

*In the absence of either a GSL/DESC/DSNC/ASU Manager/Activity Centre Manager they are replaced by the District Commissioner or Deputy District Commissioner

Approval of activities will be discussed at District Team/GSL/ASU meetings to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the process outlined above and applying consistency, also providing an opportunity for the system to be reviewed and amended as appropriate. 

Keeping young people safe

Who are Scout volunteers? How are they appointed and trained?

All our volunteers give their time freely to help young people thrive. Some volunteers lead their group week in and week out. Others call in occasionally to share a specific skill, or provide an extra pair of hands – whether they’re abseiling down mountains, or helping a group of eight year olds build a robot, or expertly remembering how everyone takes their tea.

All of our leaders are interviewed locally and asked to provide references. They undergo the mandatory training they need to be the best they can be, including basic first aid and child protection. Special training is provided for those taking young people away on residential events like camps and sleepovers.

Everyone who works with young people also has to undertake a disclosure check (also known as a ‘police check’).

 What should parents and carers be aware of?

The NSPCC advises parents and carers to be wary of

  • Activities where parents are discouraged from staying to watch or become involved.
  • Activities or behaviour that encourage rough play, sexual innuendo or humiliating punishments.
  • Individuals who take charge and operate independently of organisational guidelines.
  • Individuals who show favouritism or personally reward specific children.
  • Encouragement of inappropriate physical contact.
  • Poor communication and lack of parental involvement, leaving you feeling uneasy.
  • Children who drop out or stop going for no apparent reason
  • Invitations for children to spend time alone with staff or volunteers (or even to visit their home).

We agree wholeheartedly with the NSPCC and would not expect any of this behaviour to occur in The Scouts.

As always, if you have any concerns, please raise them immediately with your child’s leaders, or – if you’d rather speak to someone else –
contact the Scout Information Centre on 0345 300 1818.

 What are the arrangements for outings or camps?

All leaders taking young people away will give you notice, ask for your permission and provide you with a way of contacting the group while they’re away.

All residential activities (such as camps and sleepovers) are required to have at least two adults present, unless the young people involved are participating in an expedition or event where adults are not expected to attend at all. We’ll always tell you if there is to be no adult presence for a particular activity, and we’ll never ask to take individual young people away on their own.

No young people under the age of 18 are allowed to consume alcohol while they’re taking part in Scout activities.

Our Values & Key Polices

Part of being a Scout is going on a journey to understand who you are and what you stand for. Everyone is unique, but there are some things all Scouts can agree on. We call these Scout values. They’re at the heart of who we are and what we do. And we think they’re rather important:

Integrity – We act with integrity; we are honest, trustworthy and loyal.
Respect – We have self-respect and respect for others.
Care – We support others and take care of the world in which we live.
Belief – We explore our faiths, beliefs and attitudes.
Co-operation – We make a positive difference; we co-operate with others and make friends.

Scout Values

Our Policies

Our child protection and safety polices

Child protection and safety are two of our key policies that anyone involved in Scouts must work to. You can see the full policies in our Policy, Organisation and Rules section:

Is there a set of ‘rules’ volunteers follow?

Yes. As Scouts, we have a clear code of behaviour we expect everyone to abide by, known as the ‘Yellow Card’. This code is shared with all adults who interact with young people – regardless of their role – and is included in the training leaders receive.

If you volunteer to help out with an activity, you’ll be given your own yellow card to keep on hand and refer back to. You can see a digital copy of the Yellow Card here, or call us on 0345 300 1818 to discuss it. You can also view our safety policies – which relate to how our leaders run adventurous activities responsibly – in chapter two of POR.

How is Scouts managed locally?

Each Scout Group consists of different ‘sections’ – which may include a

  • Squirrel Drey (for 4-6 year olds)
  • Beaver Colony (for 6-8 year olds),
  • Cub Pack (for 8-10 ½ year olds),
  • Scout Troop (for 10 ½-14 year olds),
  • Explorer Unit  (for 14-18 year olds) and
  • Scout Network (for 18-25 year olds).

Group Scout Leader (GSL), is responsible for overseeing and supporting volunteers in each section and manages the Scout Group.

In Explorer Scout Units, a District Explorer Scout Commissioner (DESC) takes on this role.

Both Group Scout Leaders and District Explorer Scout Commissioners are responsible to a District Commissioner (DC). Where a group does not have a GSL, Leaders report directly to the DC.

The DC is the volunteer manager responsible for a wider geographical area. The DC in Mersey Weaver is Oliver Chambers

If you’d like to contact your GSL, DESC or DC then ask your local leader for their contact details or speak to the National Scout Information Centre on 0345 300 1818. Alternatively, contact us

 How can I raise any concerns or comment on activities?

If you’re unhappy with anything relating to your child’s time in The Scouts, you should raise it immediately with your local leaders, no matter how trivial it may seem.

If you’d rather speak to someone else, contact the Scout Information Centre on 0345 300 1818.

You can view our complaints policy at: www.scouts.org.uk/complaints

How can I best communicate the importance of staying safe to my children?

The world is constantly changing. Technology is constantly evolving. Society puts pressure on young people to experience new things, but that can also make them feel vulnerable and unsure about the world around them.

Our STAY SAFE leaflets contain information for young people about how to stay safe online and in the real world, and gives them all the age-specific information they need to report anything that makes them feel worried, scared or upset. They’re available from local Scout Shops free of charge, or to download digitally below.

We’ve also put together some videos on safeguarding for Beavers and Cubs, and for Scouts and Explorers.