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Alcohol and Scouting

Alcohol in particular raises a number of issues, both for young people and for adult leaders.

The guidance below deals with the questions that alcohol might raise in a Scouting environment.


Alcohol is a part of many people’s lives, regardless of whether they consume it. The issues alcohol raises are not just about the effect it has on health. Drinking alcohol can have associated hazards. The level of risk depends on who is drinking, how much and in what situation.

Drinking any amount of alcohol has effects on the physical co-ordination of the body and can seriously slow down judgement and reaction time. Within minutes of being consumed, alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream and reaches the brain where there is an immediate impairment of brain function. It takes an hour for the adult body to process one unit of alcohol.

Young people find out about alcohol by trying it themselves, observing others and through information from parents, at school and via the media, through advertising, etc. As an adult in Scouting, you are a role model for young people. Young people are impressionable and will inevitably be influenced by those adults they respect. Drinking alcohol may not mean adults set a bad example to young people. However, in certain circumstances doing so has the potential to place adults in a compromising position with regard to their responsibilities for child protection and their duty of care.

The Scout Association’s Safety Policy

The Scout Association has a key policy, which requires Scouting to be provided in a safe manner without risk to health, so far as is reasonably practicable. All adults need to be physically and mentally fit to undertake their responsibilities in this area. When responsible for young people, adults must not drink alcohol.

Policy Organisation and Rules 2.4 d

Adults must not consume alcohol when they are directly responsible for young people on a Scouting activity and must not permit young people (aged under 18 years) to consume alcohol on Scouting activities.

Green Card - Scouting and Alcohol a Checklist for Adults
This card sets out our policy on alcohol for all adults involved in Scouting. You can order your free copy from Scout Shops or you can view and download it here.  

Good Practice

During Scouting events that are attended by under-18s, the following should apply:

Help and information

Facts provided are courtesy of the Institute of Alcohol Studies and Alcohol Concern. If you would like further information, please visit:



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