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Scout Association apology welcomed by leading abuse lawyer

Leading abuse lawyer calls for mandatory reporting of concerns or known child abuse for organisations following Scout Association apology

11 December 2014

Lawyers acting on behalf of three alleged survivors of abuse by Scouts leaders have today welcomed an apology given by the UK Scout Association and urged that mandatory reporting of abuse be brought into law.

The UK Scout Association, which admitted it has paid out around £500,000 in compensation to abuse victims since 2012, said it was ‘deeply sorry’ for the hurt caused by child abuse within the movement.

The public apology follows a BBC report covering two historical cases of abuse within the scouts, which the broadcaster said were not reported to the authorities; prompting concern from lawyers representing victims of abuse who have called for mandatory reporting to be brought into law as soon as possible.

Head of abuse at Leigh Day, Alison Millar and her team of abuse law experts are currently representing three people who have made claims against the UK Scout Association.

She said: “Whilst we welcome today’s apology, we feel more needs to be done to ensure the safety of young people. A mandatory reporting law would force all organisations that work with children in ‘Regulated Activities’ to report concerns of potential or known child abuse and ensure that no abuser can avoid detection.

Alison added. “Many allegations stem from the 1960s through to the 1980s and we would encourage anyone who feels they have a case to come forward.”

A UK Scout Association spokesman said: “We apologise to those who have been abused during their time in Scouting. The safety and support of young people in Scouting is our number one priority.”

All adults within the Movement had been required to report suspected cases of abuse to the police for the last 20 years, but the BBC reported a number of cases which were not passed on to the authorities.

The Scouts spokesperson went on to say that the organisation was confident that mistakes of the past would not be repeated, adding: “Where there is any evidence of wrongdoing, this information is automatically passed on to the police. 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.”

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