New figures published yesterday have revealed that more than 250 people involved with the Scouts in the UK and Ireland have been convicted of child sexual abuse offences. The cases include convictions for rape, indecent assault and possession of child abuse images. The revelation calls into question the Scout’s safeguarding policy.
Although the cases date back to the 1950’s there are many recent examples, such as Graham Avison, a Manchester scout leader, who was convicted in November 2020 and jailed for a total of five years seven months for indecent assaults against a teenage boy. Another was the case of Bognor Regis scout leader Oliver Cooper who was convicted in October 2020 for sexual assaults on girls as young as six years old.
A report https://www.iicsa.org.uk/document/child-sexual-abuse-contemporary-institutional-contexts-analysis-disclosure-and-barring-0 was also published by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in July 2021 into contemporary institutional contexts (which included the Scout Movement). The Inquiry had based its findings upon an analysis of files from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) into individuals barred from working with children or vulnerable adults due to their criminal record. The Inquiry found evidence of “scout or guide leaders who sexually abused children…”
A spokesperson from the Scout Association said: “Nothing is more important than the safety of the young people in our care. In the UK, we have had over 10 million young members since our inception in 1907. We recognise that over that time there have been incidents of abuse. Any abuse of a young person is abhorrent, and we are deeply sorry for anyone who has suffered because of the actions of abusers.”
David Hawkins, a specialist in Child Abuse Law with Verisona Law said “Since its inception in the early 20th Century, the Scout Movement has offered a chance for young people to develop their potential by offering practical activities in the outdoors. Sadly, it has also been taken advantage of by abusers seeking access to young people by exploiting positions of responsibility”
If you or a loved one have been affected by the issues concerning abuse in the Scouts, or in any other institutional setting, please speak to our highly experienced, award winning Abuse Team who can advise you in complete confidence as to your legal rights.