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Drug, Alcohol, Tobacco & Intoxicating Substances Policy

The use of intoxicating and addictive substances poses many issues for Woodcraft Folk members, both for adults and young people. The following policy is to be adopted by all staff, adult volunteers and members of all ages.

Policy principles

  • All children, young people and adults should be aware of the behaviour expected of them, and who they should speak to if they are uncomfortable. Groups, Districts, Regions and Nations shall agree guidelines prior to any formally organised activity, event, residential or camp. Organisers of camps and other residential events, particularly where there are members from more than one group participating, shall take special note of the need to produce guidelines, which apply to every member of the camp or event.
  • Guidelines must not permit, condone or tolerate any illegal behaviour by any person attending the activity, event, residential or camp. Woodcraft Folk activities should operate within the law, see section below on legislation
  • At any one time there should be the appropriate ratio of responsible adults who must not consume alcohol or intoxicating substances (a minimum of two).
  • All adult leaders, helpers and staff are role models for the children and young people who attend Woodcraft Folk activities. Young people are impressionable and will inevitably be influenced by adult’s behaviour, as such adults should be mindful to demonstrate healthy choices.
  • Exploring health issues around drugs, alcohol and other intoxicating substances is a valuable group night activity, and could even be delivered peer to peer (see Drug & Alcohol Education Policy)
  • Every member has the right to speak out if they are concerned. If you are concerned about an adult’s or young person’s use of alcohol, drugs or intoxicating substances speak to your Local Safeguarding Lead

These principles and the recommended practice below covers usual Woodcraft Folk activities (group nights, camps, meetings and residentials). During fundraising and other social events, when adult leaders are not responsible for individual children and young people, this policy does not apply, however group leaders should still be mindful that they are role models to our young members.

Recommended practice

  • Agree a code of conduct/group agreement for your group and away trips. This agreement should be developed with adult leaders and young people and may include bedtimes, smoking areas, drinking alcohol, who to speak to if there are concerns
  • Adults must not offer illegal or over the counter drugs, alcohol, tobacco products or other intoxicating substances to children and young people.
  • Prescription medicine should only be given to the individual to which it is prescribed, and should be kept in a safe and secure location, separate from the First Aid box. Prescription medicine should be kept by a designated adult and monitored. 

Drugs and other intoxicating substances

  • Woodcraft Folk does not tolerate, permit or condone the use of illegal substances at any of its events
  • Any members found using illegal substances or ‘legal highs’ at a Woodcraft Folk event can expect to face sanctions (see below)


  • No tobacco or tobacco derivative will be purchased for or supplied to any person or persons under the age of 18
  • Smoking may only take place in designated smoking areas, which must be away from event areas and away from areas where children are likely to be present
  • All Woodcraft Folk events/activities must comply with relevant legislation, including that around enclosed public spaces including marquees
  • No person shall drive a Woodcraft Folk vehicle or transport Woodcraft Folk members while smoking tobacco products


  • No alcohol will be purchased for or supplied to any person or persons under the age of 18
  • All events must have an adequate number of adults abstaining completely from alcohol at all times sufficient to ensure supervision levels are maintained in the event of an emergency. Due consideration must also be given to the need for transport on and off site in the event of any emergency occurring.
  • When away on camp, a risk assessment is required to identify how many adults are required to take responsibility for the children and young people at the event. If there are additional adults they can drink alcohol once the children have gone to bed, but should not drink to the point that they cannot carry out their leadership responsibilities.
  • No person shall drive a Woodcraft Folk vehicle or transport Woodcraft Folk members if they believe or anyone else believes that they have alcohol in their system

Sanctions for adult leaders

A breach of the recommended practice outlined above could lead to an adult leader’s suitability to work with children and young people being reviewed under Woodcraft Folk’s Safeguarding Procedures. This will involve a risk assessment being undertaken by the Safeguarding team to assess the individual’s suitability to work with children and young people, including reviewing:

  • DBS disclosure
  • References
  • Any historical concerns or complaints
  • General conduct in groups or at camp
  • Impact of their actions

Please see Responding to concerns about an adult guidance and our Whistleblowing Policy

These procedures are designed to manage risk, and support leadership teams to develop positive and trusting relationships with each other and the children and young people they care for. The bond between leaders and group members is incredibly strong and it is important that leaders demonstrate positive behaviour and conduct in keeping with our aims and principles.

Sanctions for young members under 18 years

Sanctions for our young members will be balanced against the need for education and awareness raising. Removing an individual from a group or camp is a last resort, only considered if the individual cannot be included safely (taking into account their own safety and the safety of others) or if the individual is unwilling to commit to the group agreement.

Recommended practice would be to agree appropriate sanctions as a group as part of the group agreement. Sanctions may include:

  • Calling or informing parents of an incident
  • Confiscating items (see below)
  • Requesting that the young member destroys items
  • Returning items to parents
  • Removing the individual from site, especially if their conduct has made others feel uncomfortable or caused harm
  • Referring to social services or specialist support agency
  • Informing the police

If a leader finds themselves taking temporary possession and disposing of suspected controlled or illegal drugs they are advised to:

  • Ensure that a second adult witness is present throughout
  • Seal the sample in a plastic bag and include details of the date and time of the seizure/find and witness present
  • Store it in a secure location, such as a safe or other lockable container with limited access
  • Notify the police without delay, who will collect it and then store or dispose of it in line with locally agreed protocols. The law does not require you to divulge to the police the name of the young person from whom the drugs were taken
  • Record full details of the incident, including the police incident reference number
  • Inform parents/carers, unless this is not in the best interests of the young person
  • Identify any safeguarding concerns and develop a support and disciplinary response


A young person can legally smoke and purchase alcohol when they are aged 18.

Under UK law it is a crime to possess, deal or produce what is termed an illegal drug. You may be subject to a Police charge for possessing an illegal substance if you’re caught with drugs, whether they are yours or not. If you confiscate drugs from a young person please hand this in to a Police Station immediately.

UK laws ban smoking in public places, as such smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces is against the law. This includes Woodcraft Folk offices and centres, the venues in which Woodcraft Folk groups meet, marquees and tents at camps or activities.

Raising a concern

Concerns about a young person or about an adult volunteer should be shared with the Local Safeguarding Lead for the group, camp, event or project. Young people should be supported to share their concerns with any trusted adult, but these should be communicated to the Local Safeguarding Lead as soon as possible.


The following agencies provide advice and support around drug, alcohol and tobacco use:

Addaction is one of the UK’s largest specialist drug and alcohol treatment charities. As well as adult services, they provide services specifically tailored to the needs of young people and their parents. The Skills for Life project supports young people with drug misusing parents:

ADFAM offers information to families of drug and alcohol users, and the website has a database of local family support services:

Alcohol Concern works to reduce the incidence and costs of alcohol-related harm and to increase the range and quality of services available to people with alcohol-related problems:

ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) is a campaigning public health charity aiming to reduce the health problems caused by tobacco:

Childline offers a free helpline, information and advice service for children and young people:

Children’s Legal Centre operates a free and confidential legal advice and information service covering all aspects of law and policy affecting children and young people:

Children’s Rights Alliance for England works to improve the lives and status of all children in England through the fullest implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:

Drinkaware promotes responsible drinking through innovative ways to challenge the national drinking culture, helping reduce alcohol misuse and minimise alcohol related harm:

Drinkline is a free and confidential helpline for anyone who is concerned about their own or someone else’s drinking: 0800 917 8282 (open 24 hours)

Drug Education Forum contains a number of useful papers and briefing sheets for use by practitioners:

DrugScope is a centre of expertise on illegal drugs, aiming to inform policy development and reduce drug-related risk. The website includes detailed drug information and access to the Information and Library Service. DrugScope also hosts the Drug Education Practitioners Forum:

Family Lives is a charity offering support and information to anyone parenting a child or teenager. It runs a free-phone helpline and courses for parents, and develops innovative projects: 0800 800 2222;

FRANK is the national drugs awareness campaign aiming to raise awareness amongst young people of the risks of illegal drugs, and to provide information and advice. It also provides support to parents/carers, helping to give them the skills and confidence to communicate with their children about drugs: 0800 776600;

Mentor UK is a non-government organisation with a focus on protecting the health and wellbeing of children and young people to reduce the damage that drugs can do to their lives:

National Children’s Bureau promotes the interests and well-being of all children and young people across every aspect of their lives:

NHS UK provides advice and information for parents and carers:

Re-Solv (Society for the Prevention of Solvent and Volatile Substance Abuse) is a national charity providing information for teachers, other professionals, parents and young people:

Smokefree is the NHS Smoking Helpline: 0800 169 0 169;

Stars National Initiative offers support for anyone working with children, young people and families affected by parental drug and alcohol misuse:

Youth Offending Teams are multi-agency teams and are the responsibility of the local authority, who have a statutory duty to prevent offending by young people under the age of 18:

Approval Date: June 2021

Review Date: June 2023


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