Case review of OCMS response to an historic incident and safeguarding issues

Statement to supporters, donors, partners, staff, students and other stakeholders by Chair of the Council of Trustees

In October 2018 an encounter of a sexual nature took place outside of work hours and away from the OCMS premises between two members of OCMS staff. Following this, one of the individuals involved raised concerns about the manner in which OCMS managed the situation following the incident.

As a result, the trustees of OCMS agreed to commission an independent review. The initial investigation, led by the Chief Operating Officer (COO), was to establish what was reported, how the information relating to the incident was handled, what steps were taken in response and whether there were any lessons to be learned for the charity from those events.

GCPS, a professional safeguarding organisation, were selected to carry out the review in consultation with the complainant and their advocates. GCPS have now published their report with their findings and recommendations and these have been shared in full with the individual involved.

The trustees of OCMS have carefully considered the review and completely accept the observations and criticisms set out in the review. The trustees are fully committed to ensuring that they learn from the points raised in the review and will be undertaking the suggested ‘lessons learned’ exercise to reflect on the findings and consider how to implement the recommendations.

These actions are additional to the steps that OCMS has already taken, over the four years since the incident, to improve processes and procedures regarding safeguarding. In consultation with the charity commission we have already made a number of important changes:

  • OCMS now has a Student Policy encompassing equality and diversity, grievances and complaints, data protection; a Safeguarding and Welfare Policy; and a Privacy Policy.
  • The Board of Trustees receives an annual safeguarding report and one trustee acts as a safeguarding focal point on the Board.
  • There is now a Safeguarding Focal Point on the staff team independent of the Management Team.
  • All students and scholars are required to undertake online safeguarding training when commencing their studies.
  • DBS checks have been carried out on all staff and is part of the new recruitment process.
  • The Safeguarding and Welfare Policy 2021 has clear expectations and procedures.
  • We improved regulation by introducing a Code of Conduct that all staff, volunteers, Board members, students, supervisors and research associates are expected to sign.
  • We have appointed a COO to strengthen the HR and compliance function and general management processes within OCMS.

The trustees and all those involved on behalf of OCMS acknowledge that the organisation’s response to the concerns brought to us could have been handled better and we would like to apologise that this compounded the distress of the original incident for the individual involved.

The case reviewers have recommended that OCMS explore mediation with the individual involved, which we are keen to do. We have therefore offered mediation and are very willing to meet with the individual along with the assistance of a specialist mediator who can assist us with reconciliation in relation to this difficult matter. The aim would be to promote mutual understanding and help the individuals involved to move forward.

The Council of Trustees of OCMS expresses its gratitude to GCPS for their comprehensive review together with the identification of key issues and recommendations.

Prof. David Cranston
Chair of OCMS Council of Trustees

You can download the full report here (with confidential information removed).


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