Samaritans will monitor phone calls amid claims of inappropriate behaviour
A charity has pledged to take action after reports of volunteers meeting helpline callers for sex.
Reports over the weekend cited alleged incidents of middle-aged men using their position at the Samaritans to meet up with female callers for sex.
The Telegraph newspaper reported that a memo to volunteers said 44 serious incidents had occurred since 2017.
The suicide prevention charity said its 20,000 volunteers had answered more than 13 million calls over the past four years but that “any safeguarding matter is one too many”.
The charity now plans to monitor phone calls in future to ensure inappropriate relationships do not begin.
Julie Bentley, chief executive of Samaritans, said: “Our 20,000 Samaritans volunteers enable us to provide vital emotional support to anyone who is struggling, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and in the four years from January 2017, volunteers on our telephone service answered over 13 million calls.
“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.”
The charity said incidents were investigated by its serious safeguarding panel and had been reported to the Charity Commission.
Bentley added: “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.”