Child Abuse in the Scouts

Scout leaders should encourage the adventurous, fun side of childhood, equipping children with life skills while ensuring they don’t grow up too quickly.

While it can seem unthinkable that people with this responsibility would take advantage of the trust parents and children place in them, the sad reality is that, for decades, Scout leaders have used their position within the Scout Association to abuse children.

Bolt Burdon Kemp’s team has unrivalled experience in bringing claims on behalf of survivors of abuse against the Scout Association. We have brought more claims against, and secured more compensation from, the Scout Association than any other firm in the UK. We are currently acting for more than 100 clients who suffered abuse in the organisation.

If you or a family member suffered abuse in the Scouts, get in contact with our team of leading solicitors who can help you make a compensation claim. We have a proven track record of winning cases other firms have abandoned, and claims are usually dealt with on a no-win, no-fee basis.

We could also help you to claim compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

Types of abuse

There are different ways children can be subject to abuse in the Scouts:

  • By a person in a position of trust, such as a Scout leader, assistant or adult helper
  • Abuse can be sexual, physical and/or emotional
  • By another child at the Scouts group

If you or your child has been abused by someone at a Scouts group, or you suspect that your child is being abused in the Scouts, we advise that you report it to the police as soon as you can. The police have trained child protection officers who can visit you in a place where you or your child feel safe. Victim support is also available.

If you would like to discuss how best to report abuse, get in touch with one of our team of leading solicitors who will be happy to talk you through the process in confidence.

Or first read our guide on how to report or disclose child abuse.

Who is responsible?

If you suffered abuse whilst you were a member of the Scout Association you may be able to bring a claim against the person who abused you or against the Scout Association, or both. This will depend on the circumstances of your case. Bolt Burdon Kemp will advise you on the most appropriate option to recover the maximum compensation.

Making a claim against the abuser

In order to make a successful claim we must be able to show:

  • That the abuse took place: If the person has been convicted of the offence this will be very straightforward. If not, Bolt Burdon Kemp will help prove that the abuse took place. We will take supportive statements, obtain expert evidence and secure any documentation that will help us prove your claim
  • That you or your family member has suffered harm and should be awarded compensation: Our expert team will show the impact that the abuse has had on you or your family member, obtaining supportive witness statements from family and friends who can tell us how the abuse has had an effect. We will also instruct a medical expert (a consultant psychiatrist experienced in helping survivors of abuse) who will prepare a report explaining the damage caused. We will use all this evidence to help secure the highest level of compensation possible

Making a claim against the Scout Association

In addition to making a claim against the individual who abused you, it may be possible to bring a claim against the Scout Association. The claim can be brought if the Scouts were responsible for the person who abused you or if they made mistakes which allowed the abuse to happen. The Scouts are insured against such claims and will be financially capable of paying your compensation.

To hold the organisation responsible for your claim, Bolt Burdon Kemp relies on establishing vicarious liability or negligence.

Vicarious liability

By establishing that the person who abused you used their position within the scouts to commit the abuse, we can establish that the Scout Association is responsible for the person who committed the abuse, and should therefore compensate the survivor. Bolt Burdon Kemp has a proven track record of successfully holding the Scouts to account for abuse committed by their leaders, employees, assistants and volunteers.

Negligence

It is also possible to claim compensation from the Scout Association by establishing that it was negligent in allowing you to be abused. To do this, we must show that the organisation owed you a duty of care and that a failing or mistake on their part allowed you to be abused. For example, if the Scouts failed to carry out a CRB check, or if suspicions about abuse were raised with the Scout Association but ignored.

Time limit for bringing a claim

There is a time limit, or limitation period, for bringing a claim for compensation for abuse suffered in childhood. Ordinarily, the time limit is three years from the survivor’s 18th birthday; so the claim should be brought before they reach the age of 21.

If the survivor is outside of the time limit for bringing a claim, it is possible to ask the court to waive the time limit or extend it. Each request to waive the time limit is decided on a case-by-case basis. However, the courts are fully aware of the difficulties that survivors of abuse have in disclosing abuse due to trauma. In the vast majority of child abuse compensation claims, the claim is brought outside the time limit.

Bolt Burdon Kemp is incredibly experienced at persuading the court to waive the time limit. Generally, the court will look at the three following factors in deciding whether or not to waive the time limit:

  • Reasons for not bringing the claim within the time limit
  • The fairness to the claimant and defendant if the time limit is waived
  • Whether or not a fair trial is still possible

Bolt Burdon Kemp’s leading solicitors are expert in overcoming the limitation period and ensuring that claims brought outside the time limit are successful.

How Bolt Burdon Kemp can help

Bolt Burdon Kemp’s specialist child abuse solicitors are experienced in winning compensation for victims of abuse within the Scouts. We want to get justice for you.

We know money doesn’t make up for what happened, but it can help you to move on and cope. We will always seek to secure compensation that allows you to have any private counselling or treatment that you need.

We offer a personal service, so you can choose whether your solicitor is male or female and you can contact them at any time. We will also assess your compensation claim for free, and work with you to fund any action you decide to take.

We are experienced in winning cases of child abuse and understand exactly how difficult it can be to talk about extremely traumatising experiences. You can be sure that we will work tirelessly to win compensation for you, so you can move on with your life.

Success stories

  • We acted for Mr C who was sexually abused by David Hopkins, the Scout Leader of the 3rd Hawkinge Scout Group, between the ages of 6 and 15 years. It was only when Hopkins was arrested many years later and the police made a plea for victims to step forward that Mr C felt able to disclose that he had been abused. We secured £200,000 compensation for Mr C, which included damages for the impact the abuse had on Mr C’s education and career
  • We acted for Mr G who was abused in the 1980s when he was aged between the ages of 10 and 14 years old by Gary Collier, the leader of the 1st Ormskirk Scout Group. Mr G reached out to the Scout Association in 2009 and asked for help obtaining counselling for the abuse he suffered. When the Scout Association refused to help, Mr G contacted us and we successfully recovered damages of £45,000 for him. You can hear more about Mr G’s story here
  • We represented three clients who had all been sexually abused by Kevin Pilling, the Scout Leader of the 34th Lancaster (St Chad’s) Scout Group, during the 1990s. We recovered a total of £340,000 in compensation for our clients, which included damages to allow them to have expert counselling and therapy

Please contact one of our highly experienced team now for more information.

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