Scouting Ireland has a number of policy documents relating to the management of the following features which arise from time to time for adult volunteers in Scouting: conflict, grievance, dispute and disciplinary.
A letter dated April 2020 sets this out, provides links to the documents, and lists the members of the Disputes Resolution and Appeals Panel, the members of the Disciplinary Panel, and the Investigation Officers.
This article is of a summary nature only, the documents stored at scouts.ie are the definitive source and should always be referred to for actual and current information, they are linked to at the list above for your convenience.
Code of Good Practice (SID 39/05)
Initially the Child Protection (more recently referred to as Safeguarding) team developed a Code of Good Practice publication “to provide a common understanding within the Association of the behaviours and practices expected of adults involved in Scouting and to inform parents of these behaviours and practices”. This document has been revised a number of times since. It declares that it will be reviewed every year and the current version is dated March 2019.
It sets out aspects of how Scouters should behave towards, and in the presence of, youth members as well as towards the parents / guardians of youth members. It includes guidelines concerning the use of photography as well as recognising child abuse and responding to disclosure. It contains very little on how adult volunteers should behave towards other adult volunteers and other people generally. Further summary information and links to the document can be found Here
Conflict, Grievance and Disputes
Since the formation of Scouting Ireland there has been policy in place concerning complaints / grievances. A significant review of this area in 2017 gave rise to the current Conflict Resolution Policy and Guidelines as well as the Grievance and Disputes Process and the Disputes Policy (Youth Members under 18). These have been subject to some review and amendment in light of experience.
The Conflict Resolution Policy and Guidelines recognises the importance of resolving any conflicts, disputes or differences, which may arise from time to time, as soon as possible and at their source. It also establishes specific guidelines to assist all parties involved in a conflict situation to arrive at an amicable solution. Further summary information and links can be found Here
The Grievance and Disputes Process specifies that any member that may feel that they have a grievance with any other member or group of members must follow the Grievance Process in the first instance, to ensure reasonable efforts to settling the matter amicably. It goes on to provide a Disputes Process in the event that a grievance persists after the Grievance Process has been exhausted. An appeals process is also set out. The policy document deals primarily with conflict, grievance and disputes involving adult volunteers, but it also outlines the approach to dealing with disputes involving members of the Professional Staff. Further summary information and links can be found Here
A proposal to introduce the Appointment of Disciplinary Officer through a number of related motions was brought to the EGM of National Council on June 30th 2018. No policy document was circulated in support of the motions and following some debate at the meeting the motions were withdrawn. A copy of the motions (M3-M9) can be read Here
The same motions were once again presented for consideration at the EGM of National Council on October 30th 2018. In this instance a revised Disputes Process document including as new section on Disciplinary Matters was produced and circulated for information prior to the meeting. Much of that meeting was focussed on approving a new Constitution for Scouting Ireland Services CLG and when the time came, the motions were again withdrawn. A copy of the motions (M6-M12) can be read Here The policy that was proposed then can be read Here
In June 2019 the Board of Scouting Ireland acting under the new Constitution approved a totally separate Disciplinary Process and subsequently appointed a Disciplinary Officer. Later the policy document was extended to allow for a Disciplinary Panel, and two extra people were appointed to bring that up to strength.
The Disciplinary Process in summary:
- A Specified Officer may make a complaint on any matter relating to a disciplinary issue concerning an adult member of Scouting Ireland.
- Where appropriate, the Disciplinary Panel may request the subject of the investigation to voluntarily step aside from all or specified Scouting activities pending investigation of the complaint. If the member refuses to do this when asked, then the Disciplinary Panel may invoke the Procedure for Suspension without Prejudice (BOD-MA-002).
- The Disciplinary Panel nominates an Investigation Officer and sets their Terms of Reference. The Investigation Officer conducts an investigation and prepares a report for the Disciplinary Panel.
- There is provision for the Panel to meet with the subject(s) of the disciplinary investigation to discuss the findings of the investigation before they prepare a report including their opinion, their findings and any recommended sanctions.
- The report is furnished to the subject(s) of the investigation who may, if they feel it is appropriate, lodge an appeal within 21 days. If an appeal is dismissed, the appellant is invited to make submissions on the content of the report.
- The Appeals Committee creates its final report and, if required, refers this to the Board for action.
- If it has been recommended to the Board that a member of Scouting Ireland should have his/her membership, appointment or position terminated, cancelled, withdrawn or suspended, the member is afforded the opportunity to submit mitigating circumstances as to why the recommendation should not be acted upon by the Board. The Board considers any mitigating circumstances put forward by the member before making their final decision on whether to accept, modify or reject the recommendation(s).
The Disciplinary Process sets out to “cover any matter relating to a disciplinary issue concerning an individual adult member of Scouting Ireland” and lists a number of possible grounds for referral to the process. The list is extensive and wide-ranging, and it is stated that the list in not exhaustive. This means that a wide variety of matters may be referred to the process including a range of matters which, on the face of it, might be better dealt with under The Conflict Resolution Policy and Guidelines or The Grievance and Disputes Process. It appears to give enormous discretion to the Specified Officers to decide if an issue, which they perceive or which is brought to their attention, should lead to an attempt at Conflict Resolution, be pursued as a Grievance, be raised as a Dispute, or be referred to the Disciplinary Panel. Also there appears to be no provision in the Disciplinary Process to enable the Disciplinary Panel to refer matters out to those processes.
Sanctions include removal of a person from a role and/or membership of Scouting Ireland, recommendations for such sanctions must be referred to the Board for approval. Also: “Any other sanction which the Disciplinary Panel or the Appeals Committee deems appropriate in any particular case”, these sanctions may be imposed without reference to the Board.
Further summary information and links can be found Here
Suspension without Prejudice
The Procedure for Suspension without Prejudice sets out the right of the Board to suspend, without prejudice, any member from all or part of their scouting roles or duties at any level including Group and international. It also delegates that authority to certain office holders (Delegated Officers) where there is a clear risk to the welfare of a child or adult or to the reputation of Scouting Ireland, any such suspension must be reviewed by the Board.
Apart from the circumstances set out for empowering a Delegated Officer to issue a suspension immediately, there does not appear to be any criteria or grounds set out as a basis for requesting the Board to issue such a suspension or for the Board deciding to do so.
The official and current version of The Procedure for Suspension without Prejudice can be found at scouts.ie, that is the definitive source which should be used for reference and guidance at any point in the future
The version which was current when this article was written can be read Here
If you need support with the subject matter you should contact your Group Leader, County Commissioner, Provincial Commissioner or local support staff in the first instance.