Scouts call for criminal checks on volunteer staff
The head of Sweden’s Scout movement has called for volunteers who want to work with children to be subjected to criminal record checks.
General Secretary of the Swedish Scouts, Johan Strid, says that children must be protected from paedophiles who may be applying for work with youth groups and sports clubs.
He describes leaders of these organisations as society’s heroes, but says that a small minority have sought out the jobs in order to abuse children.
The call coincides with two of the biggest Swedish youth events of the year - the scout jamboree in southern Sweden and the Gothia World Youth Football Cup in Gothenburg.
Writing in Dagens Nyheter, Strid cites the ongoing prosecution of a scout leader suspected of sexual abuse of children. The suspect had previously been convicted of sexual abuse of children ten years ago. Strid argues that if the voluntary sector had been able to carry out checks, the man would never have become a Scout leader.
At present, Swedish law states that criminal record checks must be carried out on people who want to work with children in schools and in professional childcare.
The Scouts said the government should look into whether this requirement should be extended to the voluntary sector. They emphasised that such controls must not deter well-intentioned people from becoming youth leaders.