Samaritans to ramp up safeguarding after volunteers 'met vulnerable callers for sex'

Samaritans has introduced new safeguarding measures after reports that volunteers met vulnerable callers for sex.

The measures will include call monitoring to prevent inappropriate relationships.

According to The Telegraph, it was revealed in a memo that there were 44 serious incidents since 2017, often of middle-aged men using their position to meet up with female callers for sex.

The charity did not dispute that a "very small number of safeguarding incidents" had occurred.

Samaritans chief executive Julie Bentley said the "extremely rare" incidents had been identified and that swift and appropriate action had been taken.

Bentley added that Samaritans' 20,000 volunteers provided “vital emotional support” to anyone who is struggling, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Volunteers on the charity's telephone service have answered more than 13 million calls in the four years from January 2017, she 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," explained Bentley.

"Our robust investigation procedures meant these incidents were handled swiftly and appropriate action taken.

"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."

Incidents are investigated by the charity's Serious Safeguarding Panel and are reported to the Charity Commission, Samaritans said.

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