Child Protection

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Scouting has never been ignorant of the dangers of child abuse. 

The following precautions stemmed from the fears of the day rather than, or as well as, the fears of today.  They sought leaders of positive ‘good moral influence’ whilst seeking to exclude those who would directly or indirectly do harm. The perils are rarely listed, the 1944 leaflet quoted below being unusually specific.

POR of 1935 asks that ‘the applicant is fully fitted by character’, has ‘A full appreciation of the religious and moral aim’ and is of ‘Personal standing and character such as will ensure a good moral influence’.  These sit beside the very specific warnings of sexual abuse detailed below.

The quotes are taken from the local archives which currently end around 1980.  Current regulations may be located on the Scout Association website.

Cambridge Archive

1913    ‘No Boy Scout is allowed to visit the college room of any Scoutmaster  who is a member of the University in statu pupillari (ie undergraduates), or go to any place of public entertainment with him unless leave has been granted by the College Authorities.’  From the first of the additional local Bye Laws passed by Headquarters.  As is seen below the responsibility of sanctioning any visit moved between College and DC.

1918    ‘It was provisionally agreed to recommend for SM warrant… provided the results of the DC’s and DSM’s inquiries were satisfactory.’  Frequent phrasing from District Minutes

1920    ‘A warning was given with regard to strangers visiting troops.’ District Minutes

1925    Bye Law 9        ‘Scouts are not allowed to visit members of the University in statu pupillari (i.e. undergraduates) except with special consent of the DC’.      Ken North 70 years    re Bye Laws. It is not known why responsibility changed from the College Authorities to the DC.

1935    Bye Law 11      ‘No stranger may take part in any Scout meeting without the sanction of the Chairman of the Troop Committee’

1935    Bye Law 9        Scouts are not allowed to visit members of the University in statu pupillari (ie undergraduates) except with special consent of the college authorities’.  This bye law returned to the original, with responsibility again in the hands of the college authorities.  IHQ passed the details of this Bye Law back to the Cambridge Association, it being a specifically Cambridge issue.

Ken North recalled the days when unwarranted Scouters wore a yellow plume. Working in the Equipment Store, when approached by anyone claiming to be from another district (and not requiring warranting locally) he always took their name and checked through the warrants Secretary W T (Bill) Thurbon. ‘In this way we managed to avoid any ‘bad eggs’. He does not list any specific examples or numbers.

1944    The Chief Scout drafted a leaflet which was circulated shortly after his death.  ‘I want to warn you most seriously against men who are addicted to the vice of committing acts of indecency with boys.’  ‘…we have records of everyone who has ever held a warrant.  We keep a particularly careful record of persons who have proved unsatisfactory and have had to be turned out of the Movement and of other undesirables who have tried to get into it…’

The information was unequivacal using the terms ‘no false mercy’, ‘perverts’ and ‘crime’ and speaking of the Scouters Moral and Social duty.  The leaflet was discussed in District Executive and entered into the Minutes.

1965                The Precentor, The College, Ely to W T Thurbon Warrant Sec.  ‘Nothing against him….he was in the RAF and not seen around here’.  The warrant committee enquiries are not retained in the archives.  This one letter remains.

1975                A file of leader’s details compiled by a past secretary around the years 1939 – 1949 is now in the archives.   It was for personal use and not a permanent administrative record.  On the front of the front cover is the added note ‘Checked through and “black” records destroyed as promised to HRM 1975 KN.’ There is no indication of the nature of the black records.  We do not know if the names were accused of social, moral or legal irregularities, or stepped so far from accepted Scouting behaviour as to have been censured and asked for their resignation.  Or indeed if they broke the law and the Police were involved.

Warrants        No False Mercy

1935 POR        The Warrant process and responsibilities is clearly laid down in POR.  The inquiries required by Form G (below) are in addition to those made locally. All warranted leaders went in front of an appointments panel and their life style, behaviours and beliefs were scrutinised.

Special Precautions

72        In view of the responsibility to parents and of the dangers which have been found to exist, L.As. and D.Cs. must take every precaution to ensure that no one whose moral character is open in any way to suspicion should be admitted into the Movement, and they must show no false mercy in any case where such a person has gained admission.

73        In all cases, careful inquiry must be made with regard to the applicant’s previous Scout service, if any, and, where a person’s antecedents are not fully known, the L.A. or D.C. must consult I.H.Q. before even probationary service is permitted. Form G

75.          Where recommendation is refused on the ground that the person is undesirable or unfit to have charge of boys, a report must be sent by the L.A. Secretary to I.H.Q. through the C.C.

2018 POR        The welfare and safety of young people must be the overriding factor.

The requirement for a DBS

4. Making Appointments        4.1 Personal Enquiry

 a) No person aged 18 or over may be permitted to undertake any responsibilities or involvement within Scouting until the appropriate enquiries have been made. See POR Rules 3.26, 4.28 and 5.19.

b) An adult may not have any involvement in Scouting where a current report from an appropriate professional or statutory source suggests that the individual is not an appropriate person to hold a position in Scouting.

 c) All reasonable practicable steps must be taken to ensure that those appointed to a role in Scouting are appropriate persons.

 d) In all cases of doubt concerning the suitability of an individual the District, County or Regional (Scotland) Commissioner (as appropriate) and Appointments Advisory Committee must err on the side of caution and not appoint. The welfare and safety of young people must be the overriding factor.

Leaders are issued with the ‘Young People First’ a Safeguarding Code of Practice, also known as the Yellow Card, which gives positive guidance.  First issued in 1994 the latest version can be found by searching

JWR Archivist Feb 2019