Memorandum by Surrey County Scout Council
ENQUIRY INTO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CRIMINAL
RECORDS BUREAUPROPOSAL TO CHARGE FOR SEARCHES
1.1 Surrey County Scout Council covers the
administrative County of Surrey. It is responsible for the provision
of Scouting through twenty Scout Districts and over 200 separate
Scout Groups to over 12,000 young people.
1.2 Each Scout Group is made up of one or
more of the following Sections:
Beaver Scouts6 to 8 years;
Cub Scouts8 to 10.5 years;
Scouts10.5 to 15 years;
Venture Scouts15 to 20 years.
1.3 Each section has its own progressive
training awards, culminating in the Queen's Scout Award in the
Venture Scout section. All leaders are volunteers and belong to
Scouting as their way of providing service to the community.
1.4 On their 20th birthday, the young person
can either decide to become a leader with a specific section or
join the Scout Fellowship. These adults are necessary to provide
an adventurous but safe programme which encourages a young person
to take a constructive place in their local community.
1.5 There are over twelve thousand Beaver
Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts and Venture Scouts in Surrey, supported
by over three thousand adults.
All the adults are volunteers. Their names, prior to them becoming
actively involved with young people, have been sent to the Scout
Association who check, using existing systems, their suitability
to work with young people.
1.6 In Surrey, every other young person
has, at some time, been involved with Scouting or Guiding.
2. EFFECTS OF
2.1 Our current understanding is that there
will be no retrospective checking of existing adults involved
with the Scout Association. Were there to be we would face a one
off bill of ?30,000 (based on a charge of £10 per adult)
will not have to be found from the supporters of Scouting in Surrey.
2.2 However, the names of over 3,500 adults
who wish to become involved in Scouting in Surrey, are currently
checked by the Scout Association each year, a possible recurring
annual bill of £35,000.
2.3 Scouting is a voluntary organisation.
When activities away from the regular weekly meetings are carried
out eg camping and other outdoor activities, especially with the
younger sections (Beaver Scouts and Cub Scouts), a larger number
of adults are needed to help the existing leadership team ensure
that the activity is run successfully and safely. We are increasingly
adopting the commendable procedure of recruiting these additional
adults from the parents of the young people attending the event.
2.4 These people are also subjected to the
Association's checking procedure to ensure that they are suitable
persons to be working with young people. To prevent last minute
problems in finding suitable adults, some Scout Districts and
Groups have adopted the practice of submitting the names of parents
of all young people who join Beaver Scouts and Cub Scouts for
checking. In this way, leaders know which parents are and are
not suitable to work with young people.
2.5 If this procedure was adopted by all
Scout districts in Surrey then, based on existing membership numbers
and the age range of Beaver Scouts and Cub Scouts, there would
be over 3,500 checks made for parents alone, each year.
2.6 To this figure must be added all those
adults who volunteer to take on a regular commitment with the
Association locally. In Surrey, this is approximately five hundred
adults a year who are not parents of members but who have heard
about what Scouting has to offer and wish to be part of it.
2.7 Thus, if all parents of Beaver Scouts
and Cub Scouts together with volunteer leaders were checked, there
would be 4,000 checks a year from Surreyan annual cost
3.1 Scouting is a Charity. Each separate
part of the Association that holds money (County, District and
Group) is a separate registered Charity with the Charity Commission.
Some of the money used to support Scouting comes from central
and local government grants. Some money for specific one off projects
will come from other grant making bodies. However, the vast majority
of money required to run Scouting is raised from either the individual
subscriptions paid to enable the young people to belong, by covenanting
those subscriptions or claiming gift aid on them and by various
fund raising activities including jumble sales and selling Christmas
3.2 This money will pay for the upkeep of
the buildings that meetings take place in or the rental of suitable
accommodation; it will pay for the purchase of equipmentranging
from craft items for the younger members to tentage and camping
equipment for the older members. A typical tent that a Patrol
of Scouts would use on a week long camp now costs over £450;
a specialist tent used when on hiking expeditions costs over £250.
Scout Groups also pay the cost of training for each adult leader.
This training, which is compulsory, consists of three courses
lasting over five week ends spread out over a period of time,
together with project work in-between. The total cost of these
courses, which are all run by volunteers, is £140.
Groups, therefore, already financially support, to a considerable
extent, their adult leaders, who give a huge amount of time and,
in many instances, their own money, to Scouting.
3.3 In paragraph 3.1 we referred to the
individual subscriptions paid to belong to the Scout Group. Apart
from any grants that are received from local government, Scout
districts, counties and headquarters raise most of their money
by a levy on each member in the Scout Group. For 2001, the Headquarters
levy (or the membership fee as it is called) is £15, the
County levy is £3.50 and the average district levy is £1.50.
Therefore, the first £20 paid in subscriptions each year
by individual members goes to meet these fees before any money
comes to the Scout Group to pay for the running or other costs
mentioned in paragraph 3.1 above. The Government's proposals will
increase these costs by almost £3 per person, a 15 per cent
3.4 In Surrey, the County does not receive
any money from local government towards general running costs.
In the current year, it received a total or just over £22,000
towards eight specific projects. This should be seen against a
background of general fund income of £173,000 and expenditure
of £152,000 for the last financial year.
4.1 We all have a duty to protect our young
people from harm and from coming into contact with undesirable
people. The Scout Association already has a method of checking
whether adult volunteers should be allowed to work with young
people, though it is not 100 per cent foolproof. The Government's
proposals, though also not 100 per cent foolproof, are to be welcomed.
4.2 Parents expect that organisations, such
as the Scout Association, are properly organised. They can safely
entrust the care of their children to the trained adult leaders.
Part of that expectation currently is that appropriate checks
on the background of the adults have been carried out. Not to
take advantage of the proposals put forward by government would,
we submit, be considered to be negligence by the parents of any
young person who was subsequently abused.
4.3 The proposals as currently put forward
by Government, on the current level of checking and pricing, would
cost Scouting in Surrey at least an additional £35,000 per
year. This is an additional £35,000 that would have to be
raised by jumble sales, dances, car washes etc. Alternatively,
it would be an additional £3 per year on individual membership
subscriptions which already average £55 per person per year.
4.4 This, we believe, is an unacceptable
charge to ask either parents of children belonging to the organisation
or the volunteer themselves to pay. Government promotes and encourages
people to volunteer their time and talents. It should support
that view by providing this checking service free of charge to
4.5 We would suggest two possible ways forward
That organisations that are registered
charities should be exempt from this charge,
That organisations that are registered
charities should be able to apply for grant aid to cover the costs.
The first option would be the ideal way forward
and would not impose the expense of establishing grant aid mechanisms,
setting aside funds and providing staff to deal with grant aid
|Dereck Pollard||Steve Hall
5 January 2001
Source: Surrey County Scout Council Census: January 2000. Back
3459 Beaver Souts and 4678 Cub Scounts; Surrey County Scout Council
Census 2000. Back
Scout Shops catalogue. Back
Surrey County Scout Council's web site www.surrey-scouts.org.uk. Back
Surrey County Scout Council's Financial Statement for year ending