Concerns about Scouting

We hope that everyone who comes into contact with Scouting will have a positive experience. However, it is inevitable that on occasions, concerns may arise which require investigation.

As the majority of Scouting activity takes place locally within our community it is expected that most of these concerns will be dealt with quickly and courteously in an informal way by our local volunteer managers and leaders. However, it is possible that a complaint may arise that requires a more formal investigation and response. In these situations we are committed to seeking to resolve these complaints fairly and in the best interests of everyone involved.

Scouting’s structures

Please understand that all Leaders and Commissioners are volunteers and undertake their scouting roles in their spare time. It may take time for them to give you a substantive reply to your complaint.

Scouting is provided through Beaver Scout Colonies (6-8 yrs); Cub Scout Packs (8-10½ yrs); and Scout Troops (10½-14 yrs). These Scout Sections are organised into Scout Groups based in a local community and lead by a volunteer ‘manager’ – the Group Scout Leader. In the absence of a Group Scout Leader one of the other Leaders will be designated as the Acting Group Scout Leader.

A number of Scout Groups in a defined geographical area form a Scout District led by a volunteer District Commissioner. Provision for Explorer Scouts (14-18 yrs) and Scout Network (18-25 yrs) is also organised by the District.

A number of Scout Districts in a defined geographical area form a Scout County (designated Areas in Scotland and Wales) led by a volunteer County Commissioner (Area Commissioner in Scotland and Wales). Provision for members of the Scout Network (18-24 yrs) is also organised by the County/Area.

How do I make a complaint?

If your complaint is about a matter within one of our local Scout Groups please contact the Group Scout Leader. The Group Scout Leader is the manager of scouting activities within the Scout Group. They will listen to the complaint and will do their best to answer your concerns. If you feel you do not want to discuss the matter with the Group Scout Leader, or if they cannot deal with your concerns, or if your query is more serious, then please contact our District Commissioner by email at who will assist you.

They will acknowledge receipt of any formal complaints within five days and will past your concerns on to our appropriate Group Manager for investigation. Our aim is to resolve all complaints within four weeks. However, this may take longer depending on the nature of the complaint. If the timescale needs to be extended, you should expect to be kept informed of progress.

What complaints are accepted?

We accept complaints about how you have been treated by scouting or, if you are a parent or carer of a young person, how that young person has been treated by scouting.

We have a few basic rules for the acceptance of complaints:

  • Complaints must be raised within three months of you knowing the facts (we do not deal with complaints that are older).
  • We do not generally investigate anonymous complaints.
  • We do not accept complaints that are raised on behalf of or regarding other people (except by parents/carers of children in scouting).
  • We do not accept complaints that are broadly or substantively the same as a previous complaint.
  • We do not progress complaints that we believe to be vexatious or malicious.

How will my complaint be dealt with?

Your complaint will be dealt with fairly and objectively. We handle complaints in a positive and pro-active manner and expect resolutions and outcomes to contribute to a process of continuous improvement.

Please bear in mind that adults in scouting are volunteers and have other calls on their time. It may therefore take a little longer to sort out your complaint, however you will be kept informed of the progress of the complaint.

The investigator may need to speak to you and a number of other people to fully understand your complaint and the circumstances surrounding it.

The manager will make a decision about the complaint and will inform you whether your complaint is upheld or not and the actions that will be taken as a result.

What happens if I have concerns about how the original complaint was handled?

If after receiving a response to your complaint you are concerned that it was not handled appropriately, or still consider that you have not had a satisfactory answer, you may express these concerns to the next level of scouting. If your concern was originally dealt with at Scout Group level this will mean contacting the District Commissioner by email at If it was originally dealt with by the District Commissioner, then the County Commissioner should be contacted (you can contact the County Commissioner at If it was originally dealt with by the County Commissioner, then the Regional Commissioner should be contacted. The contact details for these people can be obtained by emailing

It is the policy of scouting that the original response to a complaint may be reviewed just once. This means that once you have appealed against the initial consideration or outcome of your original complaint, and a review has been undertaken and a response made to you, the matter will be closed. No further appeal or review will be possible.

Any appeal must be made within three months of being given the outcome of your original consideration. You may be asked to state clearly why you are unhappy with the outcome of the consideration of your complaint, or dissatisfied with the way it was handled.

In your appeal, you must clearly explain the basis on which you are making the appeal and your preferred outcome to resolve the issue. Your appeal will consider the process undertaken to handle the original complaint and the outcome of the original complaint. You will be kept informed of the progress of your appeal with an acknowledgement of your appeal within seven days and regular updates (typically at least every four weeks).

Your appeal will be investigated by the next senior manager or by someone asked to do this on the next senior manager’s behalf. The investigator may need to speak to you and a number of other people to fully understand your appeal and the circumstances surrounding the investigation of your complaint.

The next senior manager will make a decision about the appeal and will inform you whether your appeal is upheld or not and the actions that will be taken as a result.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the appeal, there is no further escalation of the complaint and we will not consider further any action regarding the complaint or the appeal.

Background information

As background to the consideration of your complaint, you will find it helpful to understand something of the purpose and method of scouting, which are summarised here.

The purpose of scouting

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

The Scout method

The Scout method provides an enjoyable and attractive scheme of progressive training, based on the Scout Promise and Law, guided by adult volunteer Leaders. In practice the method is best seen when young people, in partnership with adults, are:

  • Enjoying what they are doing
  • Learning by undertaking and participating in varied and progressive activities
  • Making choices for themselves
  • Taking responsibility for their own actions
  • Working in small groups and teams
  • Taking increasing responsibility for others
  • Taking part in activities outdoors
  • Sharing in prayer and worship
  • Making and living out the Promise they make as Scouts

Policies of The Scout Association

The Scout Movement includes Members of many different faiths and religions as well as those with no formal religion. The following policy has received the approval of the heads of the leading religious bodies in the United Kingdom.

All Members of the Movement are encouraged to:

  • Make every effort to progress in the understanding and observance of the Promise to do their best to do their duty to God or to uphold Scouting’s values as appropriate;
  • Explore their faith, beliefs and attitudes
  • Consider belonging to some faith or religious body;
  • Carry into daily practice what they profess.

Attendance at services

If a Scout Group, Explorer Scout Unit or Scout Network is composed of members of several denominations, religions or beliefs, the young people should be encouraged to attend services relevant to their own form of religion or belief.

Equal Opportunities Policy

Young People
The Scout Association is part of a worldwide educational youth movement. The values, which underpin and inspire its work are embodied in the Scout Promise and Law and in the Purpose of the Association.

Within this framework, the Association is committed to equality of opportunity for all young people.

a) The Scout Association is committed to extending Scouting, its Purpose and Method to young people in all parts of society.
b) No young person should receive less favourable treatment on the basis of, nor suffer disadvantage by reason of:

  • Class or socio-economic status;
  • ethnic origin, nationality (or statelessness) or race;
  • gender (including gender reassignment);
  • marital or civil partnership status;
  • sexual orientation;
  • disability (including mental or physical ability);
  • political belief;
  • pregnancy;
  • religion or belief (including the absence of belief)

All Members of the Movement should seek to practise that equality, especially in promoting access to Scouting for all young people. The Scout Association opposes all forms of prejudice and discrimination, including racism, sexism, and homophobia. All Scout Groups, as independent charities, have a duty to comply with relevant equalities legislation. All volunteers should make reasonable adjustments where possible to support all young people with disabilities to access Scouting. Reasonable Adjustments Reasonable adjustments means actions to enable young people with disabilities to access Scouting and Scouting activities, as far as reasonably possible, to the same level as young people without disabilities. This should involve working in partnership with parents/carers, to identify needs and support strategies. Reasonable steps should also be taken to identify any young people with disabilities in the Section/Group.

Leaders and other volunteers

To carry out its work the Association seeks to appoint effective and appropriate Leaders, and to involve other volunteers in supporting roles, all of whom are required to accept fully the responsibilities of their commitment.

The overriding considerations in making all appointments in Scouting shall be the safety and security of young people, and their continued development in accordance with the Purpose and Values of the Association.

Accordingly, all those whom the Movement accepts as volunteers must be appropriate persons to undertake the duties of the particular position to which they have been appointed (including, if relevant, meeting the requirements of the Sponsoring Authority) and, where appropriate, the responsibilities of membership.

In making an appointment to a particular leadership or support position it may be appropriate to consider the gender and/or ethnicity of the potential appointee, in particular to ensure appropriate composition of leadership or supporting teams.

The physical and mental ability of a particular potential appointee to fulfil a particular role will always be a relevant factor to consider.

Within these constraints, and those imposed by the need to ensure:

  • the safety and security of young people;
  • the continued development of young people;
  • and equal opportunities for all;

no person volunteering their services should receive less favourable treatment on the basis of, nor suffer disadvantage by reason of:

  • Age;
  • Class or socio-economic status;
  • Ethnic origin, nationality (or statelessness) or race;
  • Gender (including gender reassignment);
  • Marital or civil partnership status;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Disability (including mental or physical ability);
  • Political belief;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Religion or belief (including the absence of belief)

Note: Paedophilia is a bar to any involvement in the Scout Movement.

Safety Policy

It is the policy of The Scout Association to provide scouting in a safe manner without risk to health, so far as is reasonably practicable.

The Association believes that this responsibility ranks equally with the other responsibilities incumbent upon those providing Scouting activities and functions.

It is the responsibility of all those involved in Scouting to seek, so far as is reasonably practicable, to ensure that:

  • all activities are conducted in a safe manner without risk to the health of participants;
  • the provision and maintenance of equipment and buildings for Members and others is safe and without risk to health and adequate for their welfare;
  • information, instruction, training and supervision is provided with the object of ensuring the health and safety of all those involved in Scouting activities or who may be affected by them;
  • appropriate arrangements are made to ensure safety and the absence of risks to health in connection with the use, transport, storage and handling of equipment, and substances which are inherently or potentially dangerous

Vetting Policy

It is the policy of The Scout Association to check all adult volunteers to ensure that: only adults appropriate for a role are permitted to undertake responsibilities in Scouting; and that regular reviews are undertaken of adult volunteers to ensure their continued suitability.

Accordingly The Scout Association is committed to:

  • following a defined process for appointing adult volunteers that establishes the applicant’s suitability taking into account the fundamentals of Scouting; the Child Protection Policy, AntiBullying Policy, Safety Policy and the Equal Opportunities Policy;
  • Refusing offers from applicants that are found to be unsuitable;
  • Putting in place robust vetting arrangements and ensuring that these arrangements are made clear to applicants and to the public;
  • Taking into account relevant information from The Scout Association’s records, police forces, relevant statutory authorities, personal references and other credible sources.

As part of the vetting arrangements, The Scout Association will undertake a Personal Enquiry which involves a check made against records at Headquarters for all adult volunteers and for certain roles a Criminal Record Disclosure Check. For foreign nationals or British Overseas Territory citizens operating abroad in British Scouting Overseas and Overseas Branches, checks must be made according to arrangements authorised by the Head of Safeguarding at Headquarters.

Child Protection Policy

It is the policy of The Scout Association to safeguard the welfare of all Members by protecting them from neglect and from physical, sexual and emotional harm.

Accordingly The Scout Association is committed to:

  • taking into account in all its considerations and activities the interests and well-being of young people;
  • respecting the rights, wishes and feelings of the young people with whom it is working;
  • taking all reasonable practicable steps to protect them from neglect, physical, sexual and emotional harm;
  • promoting the welfare of young people and their protection within a relationship of trust.

Anti-Bullying Policy

“Children have the right to protection from all forms of violence (physical or mental). They must be kept safe from harm and they must be given proper care by those looking after them.”

[The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 19]

The Scout Association is committed to this ethos and seeks to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the prevention of all forms of bullying among Members. To this end all Scouting activities should have in place rigorous anti-bullying strategies.

Development policy

Subject to the our rules governing age ranges and mixed membership the Scout Movement is open to all young people of whatever background.

The Scout Association recognises, however, that access to Scouting is not equally available to all groups and communities across society as a whole.

South London Scouts

Our County Development Steering Group, County Executive Committee and County Development Service support scouting across our Scout Districts which cover the London Boroughs of Wandsworth, Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham and Royal Greenwich in promoting scouting, supporting the recruitment of adult volunteers, providing support to adults to helping them deliver quality scouting which is available to all young people in our communities.


The Operations sub-Committee of the Trustee Board and the Regional Development Service at Headquarters support the Movement in its work in making Scouting available to all.

In particular, through the use of innovation and experiment, it supports local Scouting in meeting the needs of young people in areas of urban disadvantage or priority, in highly rural areas, and among the minority ethnic communities. It also works in collaboration with other agencies to support those disadvantaged young people who might benefit from its programme and ethos, and who may never become full Members of the Movement.

Further information

We hope you find this information valuable. If you require clarification or require advice on how to make a complaint, please contact the Scout Information Centre on 0845 300 1818 or by emailing

Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls