Dear Scouts and Scouters,
Scouting Ireland is committed to the safety and protection of all our members and volunteers. For your National Management Committee and the Staff who work together to support you, it is, and always will be, of paramount importance to us.
As is best practice we regularly review and update our Safeguarding procedures. These reviews are conducted both internally and by external experts. It is only by vigorously examining our safeguarding procedures that we can ensure as far as is possible, that we have robust protections in place for all members, both children and adults, in our organisation, Scouting Ireland.
As part of this review process, in June 2017 Scouting Ireland retained one of Ireland’s foremost and recognised experts in Child Safeguarding, Ian Elliott to review our safeguarding procedures. Scouting Ireland wishes to acknowledge Mr. Elliott for his integrity, diligence and professionalism in the work he has carried out to date. We thank him for that work and indeed for his continued work with Scouting Ireland as we continue to improve our safeguarding procedures.
In January of this year (2018) last year Mr Elliott delivered his report to your National Management Committee who have considered same, accepted the report in full. Twenty (20) recommendations arising from that report were immediately actioned upon your National Management Committee Some of this work on these recommendations has already been completed while others are underway to completion
- We have agreed to the recruitment of new child safeguarding experts who will be located across the Provinces. This new structure will be overseen by Safeguarding Co-ordinator, this position as you may be ware has been advertised in the past week.
- A private space has been provided to the Safeguarding Team and more permanent solution is being developed in the near future.
- To ensure that everyone involved in Scouting Ireland behaves in a way that is aligned to the values we share, a disciplinary code for volunteers will be established. I as National Secretary have established a working group to produce these in a way that is both transparent and fair.
- We have updated our recruitment and induction policies for volunteers. In future, new volunteers will be supervised under a probationary period for their first year.
- To make sure that Scouting Ireland is always a ‘best-in-class’ organisation with regards to safeguarding we are proposing to undertake a biannual audit of our procedures.
- A dedicated section of the Scouting Ireland website is being developed for the distribution of safeguarding information to the organisation. Which you will all have access too.
There are other recommendations which are also in the process of being implemented. The result of all this work we are creating a safer environment in Scouting Ireland for all child and adult members.
You will be aware from the recent communication from the Chief Scout, and indeed from reports in the media, that arising from the review your National Management Committee ordered a separate investigation into the handling of a specific complaint made in 2015. This is being currently undertaken by an independent, external legal adviser who is reviewing whether the complaint was handled in full compliance with our safeguarding procedures. That being so and in accordance with respect for the persons involved, including due process and fair procedure I cannot comment any further on this aspect and I would request that all members of Scouting Ireland not do so either.
We are focused on ensuring that this investigation comes to a conclusion fairly and without delay. I know that some of you may have questions, but I also know you will understand the need for due process and fair procedures to be followed.
The resulting report by the external legal adviser will be given to the NMC and these conclusions will be dealt with by the Board of Scouting Ireland who will also ensure that the recommendations of the overall safeguarding review are implemented.
Equally we also want to acknowledge the work of our safeguarding team who demonstrate great professionalism, empathy and a deep personal commitment to the very important and sometimes difficult work they undertake on behalf of our organisation.
Finally, on behalf of your National Management Committee and on my own behalf we want to thank all our Scouters, all our volunteers, who do so much to protect the children and young adults who partake in scouting activities every day. We all know from personal experience the benefits of the Scout Method to developing confident, socially aware and committed young people. It is imperative that we provide a safe and welcoming environment for the thousands and thousands of young people and we depend on the cooperation and work of all our members to ensure this is the case.
Yours in Scouting
Click HERE to view the Safeguarding FAQs