An article released by the BBC has collected data from eight law firms that specialise in child abuse. They have revealed that more than £6 million has been paid in compensation in the last decade for cases regarding sexual abuse of children in the Scouts.
Sheanna Patelmaster and Lucy Pincott are the people behind the campaign to change the safeguarding policies. Both say they were sexually abused at the age of 13 by their Scout leaders during their time in the association. In this campaign they advocate for a paid safeguarding officer in every Scout county. As well as an inspection regime that is similar to Ofsted, which is graded on a four-point scale system. The campaign is called Yours in Scouting, and it is also a resource for people who have been a victim of sexual abuse while apart of Scouts. Through this campaign survivors can give testimonies of their experience when they were a member of the association.
It is revealed that, according to the Scouts association, ‘96% of claims related to offences that happened prior to 2013 – with many from the 1960s to 1990s. But some have happened more recently, including in the last few years.’ Abbie Hickson, from Bolt Kemp solicitors, has shared that her firm has settled over 100 abuse claims within the last 10 years. From her work on these claims, she states that a key issue is ‘safeguarding policy relies much on the integrity of the adult involved’. Furthermore, she claims that most of these cases involve sexual abuse by the Scout leader. ‘Scout leaders who sexually abused children in their care are by their very nature highly manipulative, secretive, devious and opportunistic individuals. And their very aim is to separate a child from the group in order to facilitate that abuse.’
Another solicitor, Dino Novcivelli, has also come forward with his work on sexual abuse cases within Scouts. Mr. Novcivelli says that ‘in the last 12 months, a number of women and girls have contacted [him] about sexual abuse in the Scouts,’ and ‘this abuse is happening in the 2000 and the 2010s and sadly the 2020s.’
‘In the UK almost half a million young people enjoy Scouts every week and nothing is more important than their safety. We have robust safeguarding policies, training and procedures in place. These are now reviewed every other year by the NSPCC,’ the Scout Association’s responded. No new information has been released on whether safeguarding policies will change in response to the campaign.