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Over £6m paid out to Scouts abuse victims in past decade, investigation finds

14 Jun 2023 News

sebra / Adobe Stock

People who were sexually abused during their time at the Scouts have received more than £6m in compensation over the past 10 years, it has been revealed. 

A BBC File on 4 investigation found that there have been 166 cases settled over the past decade, with more female victims coming forward to report abuse in the Scouts in recent years.

It comes as campaigners including people with lived experience of child sexual abuse at the Scouts launched a campaign this week urging the charity to address its “past failings” and improve its safeguarding practices.

The Scouts told Civil Society that it was “deeply sorry for anyone who has suffered because of the actions of abusers”.

£6m paid out in claims

BBC File on 4 contacted 13 law firms that specialise in abuse claims and are members of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers.

Data from eight law firms revealed that at least 260 claims have been taken on against the Scouts in the last decade and that over £6m has been paid out across 166 cases. Some 50 claims were unsuccessful while others are still ongoing.

The Scouts was unable to confirm the £6m figure due to much of the information relating to historical cases and spread across numerous insurers, but said that “the number of payouts broadly matched what they were aware of”, according to BBC File on 4.

The charity previously told Civil Society that 96% of claims against the Scouts highlighted in the Yours in Scouting campaign relate to cases where the offences occurred prior to 2013.

Safeguarding policies need to be improved

Winston Solicitors and Bolt Burdon Kemp are among the law firms that provided data to BBC File on 4.

Abbie Hickson, associate at Bolt Burdon Kemp, told Civil Society that her firm has settled more than 100 abuse claims in the last 10 years.

She said: “There are numerous changes and improvements the Scout Association needs to make to their safeguarding policies to ensure that every child in their care is safe from sexual predators. Many of the adults within the Scout Association are volunteers, who often have strong friendship ties with the scout leader who has been accused of abuse.

“I would like to see the Scout Association create paid independent safeguarding positions throughout their organisation, where the safeguarding procedures carried out by the volunteers are monitored and inspected on a regular basis. I would also call on the government to implement mandatory reporting, which would make it a legal requirement for people to report child abuse if they are told about it by a child or a perpetrator, if they witness it happening or if they see recognised indicators that a child is being sexually abused.

“Finally, I would suggest that the ‘position of trust’ legislation is extended to include all adults volunteering within the Scout Association, making it illegal for them to have sexual relationships with 16- and 17-year-olds under their care.”

Scouts ‘is not readily compensating victims’

Winston Solicitors said that “the high number” of unsuccessful claims demonstrate that the Scouts “is not readily compensating victims and will make claimants and their lawyers work to achieve settlement”.

“It is likely that a number of the claims have failed for legal reasons and not because the person was not abused,” it said in a statement.

“We see this a lot in civil claims against institutions and organisations and it can be very frustrating for the legal team and re-traumatising for survivors.”

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