Statement on safeguarding vulnerable communities

Dear Friends and Supporters of SCIAF,

I’m sure like me, and everyone at SCIAF, you will have been dismayed by the deplorable stories from Haiti. I want to reassure you that these media stories have no connection to SCIAF. While we all feel deeply betrayed by the unacceptable actions of  a tiny minority, these stories shouldn’t detract from the incredible life-saving humanitarian work that has been done since the earthquake in 2010.  

We take sexual misconduct and the safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults extremely seriously and do not tolerate any misconduct of this kind. Like everyone else who devotes themselves to tackling extreme poverty and injustice, we feel profoundly betrayed by cases like these, which we deplore. 

As Director I personally oversee all child protection and safeguarding matters in SCIAF and work closely with senior staff to ensure that any cases are sensitively and professionally investigated. We have thorough safeguarding policies and procedures in place which meet national and international standards. All staff and volunteers who work with children are trained in our policies and procedures, and commit to adhere to them. All staff and relevant volunteers receive child protection training annually, which is compulsory. We also have an internal safeguarding committee which includes the Director and senior managers, which meets regularly to ensure policies and procedures are being implemented. In over 50 years we have had two cases reported to us relating to sexual misconduct and both were dealt with decisively.

Sexual violence and child abuse are first and foremost a personal tragedy for the people who have been harmed. In the event of any allegations, our first concern will always be to care for their emotional, physical, psychological and social well-being. As soon as allegations are brought to our attention, we will ensure that the accused is removed from any opportunity to repeat the alleged offence. Such abuses of power are also criminal offences and must be dealt with according to the law where the incident happens. Where allegations are made, SCIAF will co-operate fully with the police and legal bodies to ensure that they are fully investigated, and prosecuted if charges can be brought. We will also conduct a thorough internal investigation to establish what happened and determine how the case should be handled in accordance with our policies and procedures. We have a whistle blowing policy and frequently review our policies and procedures. 

All of us at SCIAF are very proud of the work we do helping vulnerable communities around the world and work tirelessly to enable people in need to overcome poverty and injustice at every opportunity. We will continue to uphold the highest standards in our relationships with those we work with overseas and here in Scotland.

If you have any remaining concerns about SCIAF’s safeguarding policies and procedures and would like to speak to someone more about them, please give us a call.

Thank you for your ongoing support.  

Yours sincerely,

Alistair Dutton, Director