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Anne-Marie Trevelyan calls on UK aid agencies to share sexual misconduct data

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The International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has called on all UK aid agencies to join a misconduct disclosure scheme to stop perpetrators of sexual abuse from moving around the sector undetected.

The scheme was launched in January 2019 in the aftermath of the charity safeguarding scandal. It allows employers to share misconduct data with each other without breaking the law.

Today The Times published an article about the International Development Secretary’s call to action which also included the latest results of the scheme.

The Times reports that at least 36 people were rejected for jobs in 2019 because the scheme threw up negative or absent misconduct data. It also said aid agencies asked for data from previous employers at least 2,600 times over the year.

The International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan was quoted in The Times article, saying:

“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 is managed by the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR) and there are currently 15 aid agencies signed up, including Save the Children. The ambition is to have 200 humanitarian organisations signed up by the end of this year.

Steve Reeves, director of safeguarding at Save the Children, told The Times:

“This scheme is an important step towards collaboration at minimal cost and a valuable tool in preventing those with a history of sexual misconduct gaining access to the sector.”

The Times article also included a quote from Stephanie Draper, chief executive of Bond, who said that the system would be effective only if more NGOs signed up, “as well the private sector, academia and donors”.

DFID wants to see aid organisations in other countries sign up and the scheme extended to multilateral and private sector organisations.

In addition to the misconduct scheme, DFID is working with INTERPOL and the UK’s ACRO Criminal Record Office on Project Soteria to improve criminal records checks and 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.

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