The Scouts Association is making changes to how safeguarding referrals are handled, meaning they will no longer go through local volunteers.
Earlier this year, Yours In Scouting, supported by the Good Law Project, called on the Scouts to address “its past failings” and ensure it takes further action to “prevent the abuse of young people in the future”.
Yours in Scouting has now reported that the charity is taking steps on all three of its calls to action.
The campaigning group states that safeguarding concerns will no longer be reported through local volunteers and will instead be dealt with by the charity’s paid national safeguarding team.
The board has also approved funds for a UK-wide assurance team to make sure local Scouting groups follow the correct policies and procedures – including independent external audit and verification – from the first half of 2024.
The group also states the board has commissioned an independent specialist organisation to create a new lived experience panel for Scouts.
The charity said: “The safety and support of young people in Scouting is our number one priority.
“In July this year, the National Safeguarding Committee approved a planned update to our Yellow Card [the Scouts child protection policy] to ensure all referrals go directly to the National Safeguarding Team, instead of through the local volunteer line management structure.
“The Yellow Card Code of Conduct for Volunteers will now give the first point of contact for reporting a concern as the National Safeguarding Team only, rather than also having the option to report through a volunteer line manager.”
It added: “A local assurance system is also being developed. The details of the assurance system are currently being developed which will involve physical visits to Scout Groups. This scheme will start to operate in the first half of 2024.
“The trustees have also commissioned an independent specialist organisation to create a new lived experience panel for Scouts. This new panel will ensure that survivor’s voices are heard and that they have access to support and counselling as needed. Whilst it is paid for by Scouts, it will be independently run.”
In 2021, the Guardian reported that over 250 people in the UK and Ireland had been convicted of child sexual abuse offences perpetrated while they were Scout leaders or in other positions of responsibility since the 1950s.