Islington law firm reveals scale of historic child abuse in Scouts

More than 150 former scouts have contacted Bolt Burdon Kemp in Islington regarding abuse they were s

More than 150 former scouts have contacted Bolt Burdon Kemp in Islington regarding abuse they were subjected to - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

A law firm which specialises in child abuse cases has been contacted by more than 150 victims who say they were physically or sexually abused while in the Scouts.

Oliver Jeffcott

Oliver Jeffcott - Credit: Archant

Bolt Burdon Kemp (BBK) in Upper Street, Islington, has fielded calls from all over the country after a BBC News report on December 10 featured one of their clients describing the traumatic sexual abuse they were subjected to by a Scout leader in the 1980s.

The firm has taken on cases from London but is yet to deal with any cases in Islington.

Some of the abuse goes back as far as the 1940s, but cases from the last 20 years – in which the Scouts site a much stricter “safeguarding policy” – are far less common.

Oliver Jeffcott, an associate solicitor at BBK specialising in getting compensation for the victims of child abuse, said it was important that the Scouts were held to account.

“There are a huge range of people that have come forward but my feeling is that it has been mostly the older generations,” he said. “Perhaps because they’re more likely to watch the BBC News.”

“A lot of the victims feel that now is the right time to come forward as the story has been brought to the forefront and they no longer feel their case was isolated.

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“It’s a very similar situation to the child abuse that happened in Islington care homes, you have people taking advantage of vulnerable children or children that are away from their parents.

“Someone who has taken steps to abuse their position to do the most awful things to a child.

“I think it’s important that the Scouts are held accountable.”

Since the programme aired the Scouting Association has issued an apology to all those abused during their time in the Scouts.

But the association said their had only been 36 civil actions instigated against them since an increase of reporting in October 2012 in light of revelations surrounding Jimmy Savile.

Since the Scouts formed in 1907 more than 10 million children and adults have been involved with the movement.

Mr Jeffcott said there was value to coming forward, even if those who were abused did not want to bring a case.

“Every case is different, some people have never spoken about what happened to them to anyone before – there could still be lots of people out there who were abused and haven’t come forward.

“We still don’t know the scale of the abuse within the Scouts.”