Scouts ‘deeply sorry’ for abuse
The UK Scout Association today said it was “deeply sorry” for the hurt caused by child abuse within the movement.
The organisation today admitted it has paid out around £500,000 in compensation to abuse victims since October 2012. “We apologise to all those who have been abused during their time in Scouting,” a spokesman said.
“The safety and support of young people in Scouting is our number one priority,” he continued.
“Any abuse of young people is abhorrent and we are deeply sorry for anybody hurt by the actions of abusers. We strive to ensure these abuses do not take place.”
The apology comes after the BBC reported on two historical cases of abuse. In both cases, the broadcaster said perpetrators were not reported to the police.
“Those were inappropriate and unacceptable responses to that situation, these were extremely rare incidences and this should not have happened. We deeply regret this failure,” the Scout Association spokesman said about the two cases.
But he said the organisation was confident that mistakes of the past would not be repeated.
“Where there is any evidence of wrongdoing, this information is automatically passed on to the police,” he said.
“This is in line with a clear written code of conduct, that we have had in place for the last 20 years, which requires all adults in the Movement to report suspected cases of abuse to the appropriate authorities.”
The organisation denied claims, reported by the BBC, that 56 people have instructed solicitors to sue the association over historical abuse since October 2012.
The Scouts put the number of people who have launched civil actions since that time at 36 – more than double the number of people who had done so during the first century of the movement’s history.
Bolt Burdon Kemp solicitor David McClenaghan said he and his firm had been approached by about 20 people in the past two years who have made claims of abuse at the hands of Scoutmasters or others within the organisation and are now seeking compensation.
Some of those cases have been settled, he said, while others remain live.
Mr McClenaghan said the allegations stemmed mainly from the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and that many victims had been prompted to come forward by the publicity surrounding sexual abuse allegations levelled against former DJ and presenter Jimmy Savile.
“It’s definitely encouraged people to come forward, that people are being listened to,” Mr McClenaghan said.
He added that some alleged victims had come forward only in recent weeks and months: “Some of the cases will be in the very early stages, so the Scouts will not yet have been put on notice.”