Scout Association says it has paid £500,000 to abuse victims over the past two years

The charity says that since 2012 there have been 36 civil actions relating to child abuse carried out by volunteers

Scout Association: statement on website
Scout Association: statement on website

The Scout Association has paid out about £500,000 in compensation over the past two years to the victims of abuse carried out by its volunteers, according to a statement on its website.

Made in response to a BBC News story about child safeguarding issues in the scout movement, the statement carries an apology from the association "to all those who have been abused during their time in scouting".

However, the charity disputes some figures in the BBC report, which said that more than 50 people had instructed solicitors about making historical abuse claims and that the association and individual scoutmasters had paid out almost £900,000 in damages.

The Scout Association statement says that, since October 2012, the charity has "paid about £500,000 in compensation to victims of abuse". Since the movement started in 1907, it says, 48 civil actions relating to child abuse have been taken against the association; 36 of these have been instigated since October 2012. All 36 "relate to historic cases", the statement says.

The statement says that since 2012 – the year in which the sexual abuse committed by the broadcaster Jimmy Savile came to light and the sex abuse investigation Operation Yewtree was opened – it and many other charities have "experienced an increase in reported historic cases".

"In appropriate circumstances, we want to ensure victims of abuse receive compensation in a timely manner," the statement says. "This is the right thing to do. We have never used gagging orders to silence those who have been abused."

The charity says that it has operated a safeguarding process for many years, and this was reviewed by the NSPCC in 2008. Another internal review of its membership files began earlier this year, it says.

The statement says: "The safety and support of young people in scouting is our number one priority. 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 compensation does not appear to be mentioned explicitly in the association’s annual report for the year ending March 2013. A spokesman for the association said he was not aware of it being mentioned explicitly.

The charity had an income of £28.8m, 500,000 youth members and 150,000 adult volunteers in 2012/13.

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