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UK aid agencies urged to join sexual misconduct data sharing scheme

UK aid agencies urged to join sexual misconduct data sharing scheme

The International Development Secretary has called on all UK aid agencies to join a -sharing scheme, which was launched to help stop perpetrators of sexual abuse from moving around the sector undetected.

The Inter-Agency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme launched in January 2019 and at present there are 15 members. The International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has called on more UK aid agencies to join up to make it more effective.

The aim is to have 200 charities signed up by the end of the year.

Recruiting organisations requested data from previous employers at least 2,600 times last year, and newly released figures for 2019 show that at least 36 people were rejected for jobs because the scheme revealed negative or absent misconduct data.

Criminal record checks are standard practice in the aid sector but not all examples of sexual misconduct meet the criminal threshold for abuse, for example where behaviour does not break a law in the country in which they are working, but would likely break the employer code of conduct.

International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:

“It is sickening to think perpetrators of sexual misconduct continue to play the system, moving from job to job to avoid detection. This system is trying to put a stop to that, but to have the best chance of succeeding we need as many charities on board as possible. I want to see all UK aid agencies signed up, so together we can work to stop vulnerable people being exploited, abused and harassed.”

The scheme provides a legal framework for employers to share information with each other without breaking the law. Charities that have already signed up include Oxfam, Save the Children, Islamic Relief, Plan International and VSO.

DFID wants to see aid organisations in other countries sign up and the scheme extended to multilateral and private sector organisations too. It is also working with INTERPOL and the UK’s ACRO Criminal Record Office on Project Soteria ensure better criminal records checks and promote information sharing between aid and law enforcement agencies. The department is also developing an aid worker passport so the identity and work history of all individuals in the aid sector can be checked more easily.

Commenting, Stephanie Draper, Bond CEO said:

“The fast progress of the scheme has been impressive and demonstrates that the sector is determined to prevent people from slipping through the net during the recruitment process. The scheme has already helped to prevent people who have had disciplinary processes completed against them, or who are subject to ongoing investigation from working in the sector. But as with anything, this scheme will only be effective if more NGOs sign up to it, as well the private sector, academia and donors.”

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via www.thepurplepim.com.

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