Yours in Scouting Campaign: Improving Safeguarding within the Scouts

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Nathalie Swanwick

Abuse Claims Solicitor

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We were recently contacted by Yours in Scouting in relation to their campaign to improve the safeguarding structure of the Scout Association in order to provide greater protection for its members.

As a team that specialises in representing survivors and victims of abuse, we always welcome any measures that could lead to improved safeguarding and prevention of abuse.

Scouts Issue an Apology

A spokesperson for the Scouts Association has issued an apology to all survivors.

“In the UK almost half a million young people enjoy Scouts every week and nothing is more important than their safety. Any form of abuse is abhorrent and we are deeply sorry for anyone who has suffered because of the actions of abusers.”

She added: “We have robust safeguarding policies, training and procedures in place. These are now reviewed every other year by the NSPCC, following three in-depth, independent reviews since 2007.”

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What Do Yours in Scouting Do?

Part of the campaign is focused on gathering together victims’ and survivors’ experiences of abuse within the Scout Association to use this information to improve the Scouts’ awareness of the problems that their members have encountered. The greater their awareness, the more that can be learned and the better the problem can be addressed.

Over the years we have successfully represented victims and survivors of abuse on claims that relate to abuse within the Scouts. According to research carried out by the BBC, claims against the Scouts that relate to abuse have run to many millions of pounds over the past ten years. While many of these claims relate to abuse that happened many years ago, they also include incidents of abuse that took place more recently, and there continue to be concerns over the safeguarding policy and structure that the Scouts have in place. Any move that leads to improved safeguarding is a step in the right direction.

It's important for all organisations to learn and change from past events which can have such a huge impact on people’s life. Making sure that young and vulnerable people are protected is key and anything we will do anything we can do to help this.

What Does Yours in Scouting Want to Achieve?

The campaign ultimately has 4 main goals:

  • Allow survivors to be heard.
  • Create a paid Safeguarding Lead position in each county.
  • Hold the relevant individuals and organisations accountable.
  • Introduce an inspection, similar to OFSTED.

Yours in Scouting provides a safe space for people who have experienced abuse in the Scouts to share their stories. The campaign also allows survivors to talk openly about what they would like to see change to help protect young people.

Everyone who is a part of Your in Scouting is helping to build a community, so that anyone who has experienced abuse in the Scouts can support each other.

To help make sure the relevant people are held accountable, the campaign will also make sure that a Lived Experience board is created through the Scouts. The Lived Experience board will hold the Scouts Association accountable for their safeguarding responsibilities and actions.

Safeguarding Lead Role

Yours in Scouting aims to create a Safeguarding Lead position in every county that has a Scout organisation. This role will be paid, rather than voluntary. The person within the role will be responsible for making sure that child abuse claims are followed through with.

Part of the Safeguarding Lead position will also be to make sure that the safeguarding escalation pathway will not go via the District or County Commissioners, as these are all voluntary roles.

Position of Trust

As part of the Yours in Scouting campaign, they are also seeking to make all adult staff and volunteers in uniformed organisations for youth to be included under the ‘Position of Trust’ definition.

Doing this will then make it illegal for the staff and volunteers of youth organisations to have any form of relationship with 16 – 17 year olds who are in their care, that go beyond their normal responsibilities and duties.

Currently, the Position of Trust definition only includes teachers, religious leaders, sports, and care workers. Yours in Scouting aims to expand what’s included under this definition to cover all youth organisations. By doing this, it will help to make sure that children in all youth organisations are protected.

Sheanna’s Story

Sheanna, now 26 years old, was sexually assaulted and groomed by her Scout leader. Sadly, she isn’t the only one, as she knows of more survivors who have had similar experiences during their time in Scouts.

Sheanna was just 13 years old when she met her abuser, but it wasn’t until she was 24 years old that she realised what happened to her, after watching a documentary on abuse and seeing similarities with her own experience.

"He was really observant in a way that other people weren't. I had a lot of stuff going on and I think he just noticed that."

Unfortunately, her abuser passed away before he was able to be brought to justice, meaning that Sheanna will never get full closure. Despite this, Sheanna wants to share her story with the hopes that other people will also come forward.

She met her abuser in 2009 when he invited her to take part in an International Scouts Camp in Japan. Sheanna recalls her abuser being a ‘nice person’ and unlike the other Scout Leaders, who could often be strict. He took an interest in her and would create situations to be close or alone with her.

"Eventually he gave me a webcam. I know that at some point - it was really random - he just joined an MSN chat one night without his shirt on.

"He would get me to do stuff to him and it was just really gradual, so it felt like it was completely normal and then it just flipped. He pushed it further every time," she said.

"I knew it wasn't okay and I knew I couldn't tell anyone about it. It was tricky because I already knew we shouldn't be meeting outside of Scouts.

"Everything else he did just got layered on top of it all and got put into the same camp. It didn't feel right and I didn't like it but I didn't have anyone to talk to about it."

Sheanna’s story shows a clear mismanagement by the Scouts Association, and she feels that there are issues with how the Scouts manages their safeguarding. She is determined to support the Yours in Scouting Campaign to help protect other young scouts from child abuse in the future.

If you resonate with Sheanna’s story and you have had a similar experience, you can come forward to share your story too. Talking about your lived experiences not only helps bring you the justice you deserve, but it can also help other survivors to do the same. Together, you can help to build a strong community of survivors who can work together to protect children in the future.

How can you get involved in the Yours in Scouting campaign?

We are happy to endorse Yours in Scouting’s campaign. If you wish to support the campaign by sharing your story with them, signing their petition or making a donation you can visit their website here: About Us - Yours In Scouting.

Steps to Take if You Think a Child is Being Abused

If you are concerned that a young person is being abused, then you need to speak up. While everyone is different and the signs vary, here’s a list of signs to look out for:

•    Does the young person regularly travel alone?
•    Do they own more than one mobile phone?
•    Are they often anxious or angry?
•    Do they display worrying behaviours?
•    Are they receiving random gifts or money?
•    Do you feel that they are being instructed by someone?
•    Are you worried that someone is controlling them?
•    Have they started covering up their body more?

If you notice something that doesn’t feel right, there are things that you can do to help. If you feel that they are at immediate risk, then you should call 999.

You should also report any abuse that you feel is happening or you have witnessed to the police. If the police are already aware of the abuser, then this could help to protect the child and other children.

Other things you can do include:

•    Monitor what the child uses the internet for.
•    Turn on parental controls.
•    Open a conversation about who the child is speaking to.
•    Talk to the child about what may be happening to them.

Abuse Claims

Simpson Millar is supporting Yours in Scouting with its campaign to demand that the Scout Association works on improving its safeguarding practices. We will stand with all survivors of abuse within Scouts and offer our support and advice.

We can help all survivors on their journey of seeking justice. If you want to discuss your case, contact our Abuse Solicitors today to talk through your options. We will offer you a free consultation, so know exactly what to expect and how we can help.


Halle-Richards, S. (2022). ‘Why did you do it?’: I confronted Scout leader after realising he had abused me. [online] Manchester Evening News. Available at:

GOV.UK. (n.d.). Positions of trust: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 factsheet. [online] Available at: (n.d.). Scouts urged to improve safeguarding practices by campaigners who were abused. [online] Available at:

NHS (2021). Help after rape and sexual assault. [online] Available at:

Nathalie Swanwick

Abuse Claims Solicitor

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

Nathalie began her legal career in 2009 after completing her law degree at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2008. She has specialised in abuse claims since 2010, and went on to qualify as a Solicitor in 2013.

Following her qualification Nathalie specialised in a range of personal injury claims including abuse claims and criminal injury claims. She has acted for clients who have suffered life-changing injuries such as brain injuries.

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