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Adventurous activity permit scheme - commissioners' guide (FS120103)

(Published March 2016 replacing version Nov 2013)


This page provides a guide to Commissioners on their role within the adventurous activity permit scheme. More detailed information on the scheme, for applicants, assessors, and for each activity can be found on seperate pages.

The permit scheme

The adventurous activity permit scheme is a way of ensuring that an Applicant has the skills and experience to lead an adventurous activity for a group of young people in Scouting. It is designed to be flexible, allowing each permit to be tailored based on the applicant’s skills, experience and requirements. Details of which activities are classed as adventurous can be found in POR.

The Commissioner’s role

It is your role as Commissioner to issue any adventurous activity permits. No other role; County Assessor, Adviser, Assistant Commissioner, can grant a permit, although they can all provide support to you. It is also not possible to grant or renew a permit without a recommendation from an assessor.

The activity permit scheme is a national scheme, so any permit you grant can be used with young people from other parts of the country, and anyone with a permit from elsewhere in the country can use it with young people from your County or District. Having a permit does not override the need for all activities to have the (usually informal) approval of Commissioner. However, only in exceptional circumstances will a Commissioner not approve an activity where a permit holder is working within the restrictions of their permit.

Please do not implement local rules in relation to the permit scheme. These are unneeded, provide extra barriers to young people being able to do activities and may lead to confusion and frustration

Granting a permit

If someone wishes you to grant them a permit they should come to you with a recommendation from an assessor. When this happens there are a number of steps you need to take:

Check the assessor’s recommendation – This will be based on the applicant’s technical competence and experience. You may not grant a permit that is less restrictive than this recommendation. Always check who the assessor is. If it not someone you know as being an assessor then you should contact them or their County to check that they are in a position to be able to carry out assessments. If they are an external assessor you should check what level of qualification they have and compare it with the external assessor table, or consult your County MAPS (Manager of the Activity Permit Scheme). This recommendation may come to you in paper form as the final page of the Assessment Checklist or maybe as a permit recommendation within Compass.

Check knowledge of The Scout Association rules – If the applicant was assessed by a County Assessor this could already have been checked and included in the recommendation you received. If not you will need to check that the applicant is aware of the general and activity specific Scout Association rules for the activity and how these affect them. Support for this can generally be found through your County MAPS.

Check safeguarding (leadership and supervisory permits, not for personal permits) – Check that the applicant has undertaken the necessary Personal Enquiry checks and has completed module 1 training. Please note that applicants will need to have an appropriate full adult role in order to be issued with a permit.

Check applicant’s personal suitability – This is a check on the applicant’s attitude to run the activity for young people. It is not the same as their personal suitability to hold an appointment as they will be in a different environment with different responsibilities. Although there are no age restrictions on gaining a permit, it is often sensible to give reasonably restrictive permits to young people as they will often not have the experience or maturity of an adult. If you do not know the applicant well yourself it can be useful to consult with people who do know them well such as their GSL.

Grant the permit – This must not be to a level higher than the recommendation received from the assessor. It can be tailored to the skills, experience and requirements of the individual as much as is deemed appropriate, but you should be prepared to explain the reasons for any restrictions, and how they could gain a less restrictive permit in the future. You will also need to state an expiry date for the permit, up to a maximum of five years from the assessment date. Again, if you decide there are reasons to issue a shorter term permit you should be prepared to explain the reasons for this to the applicant.

Issue a permit card – These are available to Commissioners from the Scout Information Centre. All of the information you need should be available on the back page of the assessment checklist that has be brought to you:

Ref – This is an optional field if you wish to use a local system of reference numbers, but can be left blank if not.

Expiry – This date is no more than five years from the date of assessment and is required on all permits.

Activity – This will include both the title at the top of the page (kayaking, hillwalking etc) and any information in the permit applied for box (Sea, Terrain 1 Summer etc). It will also include any information in the waters box where this exists. If there is any doubt about any of the information in these boxes then please double check with the assessor.

Personal / Leadership / Supervisory – Tick the box(es) from the category box on the form. Personal permits are only available to under 18s.

Restrictions – This is a combination of the restrictions from each restrictions box on the form. It is the same as the restriction details in the final restriction box and can’t ignore any restrictions recommended by the assessor. If there is not room on the card for all of this information then it can refer to somewhere else (such as the database) for full details.

Record the permit on Compass – As this is a national scheme it is important that there are national records held on who holds a permit. This also allows Counties etc to see what permit holders there are in their area, and allows UKHQ to easily contact them with updates etc should the need arise. The record on Compass is the definitive record of what permits have been granted, so if it is not recorded on Compass then the permit does not exist. You should also file the back page of the assessment checklist *(with the recommendations and details of the final permit) for the life of the permit in case this needs referring to at any point.

Permits for under 18 members

Members under the age of 18 are able to gain permits if they are deemed suitable by following the same process as outlined above. Youth data is not currently recorded within Compass and therefore local records must be kept of the permit issued.


If you are unsure of anything to do with the permit scheme then support is available to you. Your County will have a MAPS (Manager of the Activity Permit Scheme) who amongst their responsibilities is there to support you with your role within the activity permit scheme. In addition to this there is support available from the UK Adventure Team through the Scout Information Centre at UKHQ.


The activity permit scheme is moderated annually within each County. Your County MAPS will carry out this moderation, but County Commissioners have certain responsibilities. These are:


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