The reporting of sexual harassment can be difficult, so the Socialist Party aims to make the process as clear and straightforward as possible.
The term “authoritative member” is used throughout this document. Members are considered authoritative by virtue of;
- Their personal or professional experience and expertise,
- Their standing within the organisation as defined by the length of their membership, level of activity and holding, either contemporaneously or historically, elected positions with the party or trade union movement.
Members will not be considered “authoritative” in circumstances where any conflict of interest exists.
Responsibilities of members:
All members have a responsibility to behave in a way that does not constitute sexual harassment. We ask that any member who becomes aware of behaviour they think may amount to sexual harassment reports this. We consider this to be a duty of members as part of a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can be reported by the individual who experiences it or another person who becomes aware of such behaviour.
Reports can be made to:
- any party branch secretary;
- any member of the National Committee, National Executive Committee or Regional Executive Committee;
- any person who works full time for the party;
- or one of the four Designated Safeguarding and Complaints Officers.
When receiving reports of sexual harassment any of the above mentioned authoritative members they must make it clear at the start that it will likely be necessary for them to share the information with one of the Designated Safeguarding and Complaints Officers.
The four Designated Safeguarding and Complaints Officers will be elected by the National Conference from a slate of candidates approved by the National Committee to ensure those elected are authoritative members and be balanced in terms of gender and age.
Reports or complaints regarding sexual harassment will be passed on to a Designated Safeguarding and Complaints Officer. Each Designated Safeguarding and Complaints Officers is required to share any reports or complaints they receive with the other officers to ensure accountability and best practice. Where a complaint is made against a Designated Safeguarding and Complaints Officers this individual will be excluded from all processes.
The Socialist Party’s responsibilities:
The party has a responsibility to look into incidents it has reason to think could constitute sexual harassment/assault.
If an investigation is required, this will be conducted by the four Designated Safeguarding and Complaints Officers. Should this not be possible the Designated Safeguarding and Complaints Officers in conjunction with the NEC shall appoint additional members to join an Investigation Team. If a complaint being investigated involves the behaviour of a member of the NEC, there cannot be a majority of NEC members on the Investigation Team and it may be appropriate that the Investigation Team involve at least one authoritative member from another section within our international organisation: International Socialist Alternative.
Any work or investigation, either formal or informal, must be conducted in a professional way, including making a record of the process. Recorded minutes of all meetings in relation to a formal investigation must be kept and agreed by involved parties. All processes should be conducted as swiftly as possible.
Possible actions and outcomes:
1) informal approach and resolution
Depending on the situation, an informal approach may be most appropriate. This could involve raising the issue with the respondent or initiating a discussion among the people involved to try to resolve and overcome the issues. An informal approach could be adopted by a complainant or bystander or initiated after discussion with a Designated Safeguarding and Complaints Officers. Where an informal approach has been adopted, a formal process can be initiated later if the situation has not been resolved to the satisfaction of all involved.
2) formal investigation
If an investigation is required, an Investigation Team will be established. This will be comprised of the four Designated Safeguarding and Complaints Officers or those appointed in addition as discussed above.
Any allegations will be clearly and fully presented and all the people involved, including any witnesses will be interviewed separately. Then the Investigating Team will deliberate on the information and judge if they believe the behaviour amounts to sexual harassment. Those investigating shall make recommendations regarding courses of action which could range from informal resolution options to disciplinary measures including expulsion from the Party. The Investigation Team will seek to reach a consensus or, failing this, a majority decision. This will then be reported to the NEC who will decide on the findings or recommendations and be responsible for taking any action.
The NEC should report its decisions to the National Committee but in some instances, it will be appropriate to keep any procedures on a need to know basis out of respect for the privacy of individuals involved.
3) right to appeal
Respondents or complainants may request an appeal against the findings or the sanctions flowing from an investigation. Unlike other investigations/disciplinary situation there cannot be an automatic guarantee of a right of appeal to the party conference against the finding or sanctions in cases of sexual harassment, particularly out of respect for the welfare of victims. If the NEC refuses a right to appeal, this must be reported to the next meeting of the National Committee and approved.
4) reporting of complaints to authorities
If a complainant wants to report abuse to the police, the Party will support that decision. If the party receives a complaint of a serious nature; or is concerned that an allegation may form part of an ongoing pattern of behaviour that could put other Party members or members of the public at risk; we reserve the right to report such matters to the appropriate authorities. Where individuals are reported to the appropriate authorities they will be informed of this unless doing so risks the welfare of others.
Policy updated by National Committee December 2020