A minimally perturbing plastic scintillation detector has been developed for the dosimetry of high-energy beams in radiotherapy. The detector system consists of two identical parallel sets of radiation-resistant optical fibre bundles, each connected to independent photomultiplier tubes (PMTs). One fibre bundle is connected to a miniature water equivalent plastic scintillator and so scintillation as well as Cerenkov light generated in the fibres is detected at its PMT. The other 'background' bundle is not connected to the scintillator and so only Cerenkov light is detected by its PMT. The background signal is subtracted to yield only the signal from the scintillator. The water-equivalence of plastic scintillation detectors is studied for photon and electron beams in the radiotherapy range. Application of Burlin cavity theory shows that the energy dependence of such detectors is expected to be better than the commonly used systems (ionization chambers, LiF thermoluminescent dosimeters, film and Si diodes). It is also shown that they are not affected by temperature variations and exhibit much less radiation damage than either photon or electron diode detectors.