Samaritans review procedures after claims that volunteers had sex with vulnerable callers

Yesterday, I published a press release on behalf of IICSA setting out new research which found that tactics exploited by perpetrators working in institutions enable child sexual abuse to continue even today.

In our comments on that press release we drew attention to the fact that one of the single most important thing for abusers is to create an opportunity to access children that they can abuse and the same can be said of vulnerable adults.

In a story published in the Daily Telegraph on the 1 August, 2021 it was reported that the Samaritans will in future listen in on calls to the service after having to report 44 serious safeguarding issues that have occurred since 2017 to the Charity Commission.

The new measures that were notified to volunteers last month have been introduced against a backdrop of allegations that some volunteers have abused their positions of trust to meet vulnerable callers for sex.

The Daily Telegraph reported that a number “middle-aged men” from a “specific demographic” met up with women callers to the service for sex after first speaking with them on the phone.

The Samaritans report that they have robust policies for selecting volunteers and that these volunteers are subject to strict protocols detailing what contact they can have with callers.

Julie Bentley, the CEO of the Samaritans, said: “Running any national service on this scale means that, on extremely rare occasions, high standards are not always met and from the millions of calls answered, a very small number of safeguarding incidents were identified.”

She went on to say that “Any safeguarding matter is one too many and as such we review our practices on an ongoing basis and have introduced further measures as part of our commitment to delivering a consistently high-quality experience for our callers.” This again highlights the need for all organisations dealing with vulnerable adults to scrutinise their processes and procedures to ensure that similar opportunities to access vulnerable adults within their organisation are correctly monitored and controlled.


Written by Sharon Moohan sharon.moohan@blmlaw.com

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