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Thread: Coroner's report on the death of a scout in Wales

  1. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    It is not a precaution, because if it was they would just be treated the same as a visitor i.e. no unsupervised access and maximum frequency.

    It is being used as a punishment/inducement.

    I comment not on how sensible that is, but it is no longer a neutral thing and they have explicitly said so.
    But a visitor hasn't avoided or at least potentially avoided having a DBS redone on them which someone that has allowed their DBS to go past the 5 year mark has done. Also they aren't there as a visitor as they are a trusted member of the Leadership team (having been a Leader for at least 5 years) as such the kids and other Leaders trust them so they are in a much stonger position than a visitor if they were wanting to misuse their position. As such I think suspension until they renew their DBS is the only reasonable course of action for TSA to take, but its not a punishment is a precaution.
    Last edited by shiftypete; 11-02-2020 at 04:32 PM.

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

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    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
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    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    Lets not forget that we are dealing with a tragic loss of life here however it was caused.

    As for the points in the report, they leave a few questions open, that can be interpreted more than one way..
    No approval from the DC, is this a miss interpretation of POR9.1, or does it mean that no NAN was filled in?

    No Risk assessment - either dynamic or written - yet they had decided against going up Snowden - so a walk round Great orme would be seen as significantly less of a risk so surly something will have lead to a decision to go on what should have been a safer location

    No route planned - I would assume you would follow the paths - unless you decide to go off the beaten track

    Absences of District Commissioner, is the role vacant? if so then isnt there usually an acting DC to send the NANs off to? or does this mean that the DC is supposed to oversee the leadership of the group - something that's not possible as its impossible for a DC to directly oversee everything ( my understanding is that this is delegated from DC to DESC to Explorer leader to Leader in charge of activity ( if not EL)

    List Of YP phone numbers, from a Scout leader point of view, we dont have numbers of the scouts when they are out and about, we dont encourage mobile phones, but accept they may have them - if they need to get in touch with us and they are out without direct supervision they usually have our phone numbers. If we are on a Standing camp, and our pitch is empty ( ie leaders+scouts in various places) we have an old mobile phone that the Scouts can use to call us in an emergency, either wich way, the communication is form them to us.

    Alot of it is open to interpretation either which way, and until the Summer not much more will be known

  3. #48
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    Coroner's report on the death of a scout in Wales

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBadBaloo View Post
    That is perhaps because, no matter how many times TSA say suspension of a leader is a neutral act, it patently isn't and is, therefore, an impossible case to make.
    Even withouth being neutral, it's not an impossible case to make. What is required is proportianality and transparency. There is no proportionality in TSA's suspension process (it's all or nothing); in this case, proportionality could have been, for example, a restriction on activities outside of the scout hut. These leaders would have been suspended (one wonders who introduced the term "restricted duties" into proceedings) and would therefore not have been able to attend even a adult-only leaders' meeting or attend first aid training. That could be what provides a distorted perception of the TSA's assessment of those leaders.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    They have now stopped saying that, as a result of the move to suspend people for e.g. not doing a DBS, as it is very clearly being used as a punishment in that case.
    That is not why TSA have stopped saying that. It happened before the DBS 'administrative suspension'. I know because it followed a call that I had with Tim Kidd, then Deputy UK Chief Commissioner, when I pointed out:
    • it adds insult to injury since it doesn't feel 'neutral' and isn't perceived as 'neutral'; just stating it doesn't make it neutral;
    • it has been recognied in law (although relating to employment) that a suspension cannot be a neutral act


    [2007] EWCA Civ 106 paragraph 12
    Suspension changes the status quo from work to no work, and it inevitably casts a shadow over the employee's competence. Of course this does not mean that it cannot be done, but it is not a neutral act.
    [2012] EWCA Civ 138 paragraph 71
    It appears to be the almost automatic response of many employers to allegations of this kind to suspend the employees concerned, and to forbid them from contacting anyone, as soon as a complaint is made, and quite irrespective of the likelihood of the complaint being established. As Lady Justice Hale, as she was, pointed out in Gogay v Herfordshire County Council [2000] IRLR 703, even where there is evidence supporting an investigation, that does not mean that suspension is automatically justified.
    Even if they are subsequently cleared of the charges, the suspicions are likely to linger, not least I suspect because the suspension appears to add credence to them. It would be an interesting piece of social research to discover to what extent those conducting disciplinary hearings subconsciously start from the assumption that the employee suspended in this way is guilty and look for evidence to confirm it.
    There is a lot more to say about suspentions, but this is not the right thread. However, I will add that I believe the root cause of these issues to be a lack of democratic structures and accountability systems in the TSA. All of these rules are put together in a reactionary way by just a few people at the top without much input (other than ad-hoc) from those down below. There have in recent years been improvements in consultation processes, but fundamentally the agenda is still top-down - as are pretty much all appointments and nominations.

    Before I get lambasted, I'm not advocating full-on one member-one-vote as I'm sure there could be lots of complicated issues. Rather a progressive shift away from command-and-control. This isn't the way to run and structure a youth organisation in the 21st centuary.

    P.S.: I acknowledge and am grateful that Tim did arrange a phone call, took on board my comments and made the change.
    Last edited by ntahall; 11-02-2020 at 11:49 PM. Reason: Added PS
    Nico Hall
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    Quote Originally Posted by ntahall View Post
    Even withouth being neutral, it's not an impossible case to make. What is required is proportianality and transparency. There is no proportionality in TSA's suspension process (it's all or nothing); in this case, proportionality could have been, for example, a restriction on activities outside of the scout hut. These leaders would have been suspended (one wonders who introduced the term "restricted duties" into proceedings) and would therefore not have been able to attend even a adult-only leaders' meeting or attend first aid training. That could be what provides a distorted perception of the TSA's assessment of those leaders.
    Is suspension automatic in the case of a death occurring? It isn't with an injury, even a serious one. Though 9.1 could clearly be used to implement reduced duties - "As DC I hereby, until further notice, reject approval for any activity occurring outside of the Scout HQ, and will approve activities inside it on a case by case basis; please submit your programme with written RAs and give me a phone call if you need to deviate from it before doing so".

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    For a start they could do with getting rid of the term suspension I suppose.

    Anyone who ever went to school - which is most of us, are already acclimated to that being a very negative word.

    A hiatus, or break. Maybe an intermission. A leadership pause. A temporary recuse.

    But not suspension.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    Is suspension automatic in the case of a death occurring?
    I would be suprised if it wasn't

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

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    2017-2018 AGSL

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
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    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    I would be suprised if it wasn't
    The next question is "who do you suspend"?

    If its on a small camp with 2 or 3 leaders (as in this case) then yes suspending the whole team might be practical

    What if it happened on a large group camp - would you suspend the camp leader? the GSL? The child's section leader? the leader who was running the activity where the incident occured? All the leaders present?

    What about a death on a district or county camp?

    And regardless of the course? What if the child died of a pre-existing, undeclared, medical condition?

    If a child died because of an incident that occured on a campsite-provided activity at a national centre? Would you suspend the leader team (who had acted in good faith by using TSA's own instructors at the centre)?

    Suspension cannot ever be "automatic" unless there are very clear rules and criteria as to who is suspended and for what.

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    Quote Originally Posted by campwarden View Post
    The next question is "who do you suspend"?

    If its on a small camp with 2 or 3 leaders (as in this case) then yes suspending the whole team might be practical

    What if it happened on a large group camp - would you suspend the camp leader? the GSL? The child's section leader? the leader who was running the activity where the incident occured? All the leaders present?

    What about a death on a district or county camp?

    And regardless of the course? What if the child died of a pre-existing, undeclared, medical condition?

    If a child died because of an incident that occured on a campsite-provided activity at a national centre? Would you suspend the leader team (who had acted in good faith by using TSA's own instructors at the centre)?

    Suspension cannot ever be "automatic" unless there are very clear rules and criteria as to who is suspended and for what.
    Subjective. In this case I'd be astonished if all leaders present weren't suspended until conclusion of the coroners inquiry and subsequent SA investigation.

    For myself I cannot envisage remaining in the movement after such a tradgedy. Life changing for the leaders as well as the family.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingStar View Post
    For myself I cannot envisage remaining in the movement after such a tradgedy. Life changing for the leaders as well as the family.
    Quite agree. A child has died on your watch, even if it was an unavoidable accident. Why would you want to carry on as a leader?
    The Roman Empire did not become great by holding meetings. It did so by killing everyone that opposed their point of view.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingStar View Post
    Subjective. In this case I'd be astonished if all leaders present weren't suspended until conclusion of the coroners inquiry and subsequent SA investigation.

    For myself I cannot envisage remaining in the movement after such a tradgedy. Life changing for the leaders as well as the family.
    With this, I agree.

    However - in this case it was very clear who the three leaders with "responsibility" for the activity were, so it would be very clear who to suspend. The use of "restricted duties" doesnt make it particularly clear what the actual action was. If I was a parent at that unit I certainly wouldnt expect those adults to be responsible for my child while the investigation was ongoing.

    On the other hand, I really hope that the district/county ensured there was support for the other young people in the group. It would be very easy for the explorer unit to simply fold once all the leaders have been suspended. Whilst some of the YP might want to leave Scouting after losing their peer in an accident, I can imagine others would see the camaraderie of the unit as a support network. It is not clear whether the unit had other leaders who werent on that trip, or what happened to the unit after the accident.

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    Quote Originally Posted by campwarden View Post
    With this, I agree.

    However - in this case it was very clear who the three leaders with "responsibility" for the activity were, so it would be very clear who to suspend. The use of "restricted duties" doesnt make it particularly clear what the actual action was. If I was a parent at that unit I certainly wouldnt expect those adults to be responsible for my child while the investigation was ongoing.

    On the other hand, I really hope that the district/county ensured there was support for the other young people in the group. It would be very easy for the explorer unit to simply fold once all the leaders have been suspended. Whilst some of the YP might want to leave Scouting after losing their peer in an accident, I can imagine others would see the camaraderie of the unit as a support network. It is not clear whether the unit had other leaders who werent on that trip, or what happened to the unit after the accident.
    We had a tragic event 2 years ago when an ex-explorer - who nevertheless had many peers and friends in the unit - committed suicide. The county were extremely helpful, sending counsellors and providing advice for both the leaders and members of the unit, one of those occasions where the hierarchy and support available in a big county really shone through.

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    Quote Originally Posted by campwarden View Post
    On the other hand, I really hope that the district/county ensured there was support for the other young people in the group. It would be very easy for the explorer unit to simply fold once all the leaders have been suspended. Whilst some of the YP might want to leave Scouting after losing their peer in an accident, I can imagine others would see the camaraderie of the unit as a support network. It is not clear whether the unit had other leaders who werent on that trip, or what happened to the unit after the accident.
    This is one of the issues with suspending - it does tend to cause Sections to collapse, possibly, as you say, when they are perhaps at their most important as a support network for the survivors. I hope the District Team did step in to keep it afloat.

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    I can't help but feel, there will be someone reading these comments who does know the group, leaders or district involved.

    And I can't help but think how awful it must be for them, all of them.

    I don't know the details of it all, but I know I've been on camp and it's been hectic. You just get those days (or nights) where circumstances change, and you go from being proactive to reactive. We all know when that happens, we're never as organised as we'd prefer to be.

    With all this chat elsewhere about risk assessments and best practice, expectations and reality. I cannot help but feel, this could happen to the best of us. Regardless of whatever HQ comes out with, I know this will be in my mind (as are so many other incidents and news stories involving young people, and not just in Scouting), when I'm on Scout manoeuvres.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    With all this chat elsewhere about risk assessments and best practice, expectations and reality. I cannot help but feel, this could happen to the best of us. Regardless of whatever HQ comes out with, I know this will be in my mind (as are so many other incidents and news stories involving young people, and not just in Scouting), when I'm on Scout manoeuvres.
    Even with a massive pile of paperwork and the most carefully planned programme and activities, indeed it could. Funnily enough, the risk of a false accusation (even following the Yellow Card) tends to be more of a concern in my mind, but yes, it doesn't take much to turn an accident into something much more serious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    Even with a massive pile of paperwork and the most carefully planned programme and activities, indeed it could. Funnily enough, the risk of a false accusation (even following the Yellow Card) tends to be more of a concern in my mind, but yes, it doesn't take much to turn an accident into something much more serious.
    Agreed on that.

    I think we're lucky where we are, ours is a small village. I think I'd be a lot more wary if it was a larger suburban-based group where kids came from different neighbourhoods who's parents did not speak to each other at all. In which regard, there is a certain amount of added security (if you see what I mean) for kids in closer knit communities. Not much gets by parents under those circumstances - people, as they say, do like to talk.

    It's an advantage, but also a bit of a pain at times, (especially when they get it wrong...)

    I think one of the side effects coming out of these stories, for me anyway, is a new respect for fellow scout leaders. Folks outside the organisation tut, nod and make those annoying 'oh you're a scout leader...' remarks, but have no idea what we all risk for our vocation (and often their kids).

    Not wishing to sound too dramatic about it. But, if not respect, it certainly deserves more consideration. I appreciate it when parents do indicate an understanding of what we do.

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