The SNP takes complaints of sexual harassment extremely seriously. Should you experience any behaviour that you feel amounts to sexual harassment either towards yourself or another member we strongly encourage you to report it to us as soon as you can.
We are committed to ensuring that the SNP is a safe place for all members of the party, and for staff. This policy should be read in conjunction with the SNP Safeguarding policy, and the Bullying & Harassment Policy. Please note, separate guidance is available for Parliamentary staff.
All complaints should be directed to the SNP Complaints Officer by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 0131 525 8919.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual Harassment is legally defined as unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating your dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for you.
You can also be sexually harassed if someone engages in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, or that is related to gender reassignment or sex, which has the same purpose and effect, and because of your rejection of, or submission to, the conduct you are treated less favourably than otherwise.
In determining whether someone’s conduct has that effect, your perception and whether it is reasonable for the conduct to have that effect are all taken into account. Your perception is very important in determining whether sexual harassment has occurred.
Sexual harassment as a broad term covers behaviour which takes place in private and in public. It can include:
- Making unwelcome verbal or physical advances
- Touching someone in a sexual way
- Making inappropriate, offensive or sexually explicit remarks
- Making sexually embarrassing ‘jokes’
- Sending inappropriate texts and emails
- The display or circulation of pornography or indecent images
- Unwanted physical contact such as hugging, kissing or inappropriate touching
- Following someone
- Sexual assault
Sexual Harassment Procedure
In terms of the communication channels for reporting concerns, the SNP is firm in its belief that allegations of sexual harassment must be taken seriously and that anyone who considers that they have been subject to such behaviour must feel able to come forward.
Our procedures are aimed at ensuring anyone can raise concerns directly and in confidence. Individuals can report any matter on a confidential basis. The point of contact at SNP Headquarters is the complaints officer, who may be contacted at email@example.com and direct dial 0131 525 8919.
If you choose to contact us, it will be treated as a formal complaint.
Where we believe a criminal offence might have taken place, we will advise you to report the incident to the police. If we have serious concerns about your safety or the safety of others, the SNP has a duty to contact the police, and will do our best to let you know before doing so. If your complaint is subject to an ongoing police enquiry, we will not investigate until the police investigation has run its course.
If we receive more than one complaint of a serious criminal nature; or where we are 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 this matter to the appropriate authorities, such as parliamentary authorities, local authorities and Police Scotland. If we do need to do this, we will let you know.
- We will request a written statement from you, with as much detail as you remember.
- The respondent will be informed of the details of the complaint made against them, including your identity, and will be asked to provide a statement.
- Both parties will be asked to provide relevant evidence and, if appropriate, names of witnesses that support their statement to establish matters of fact from both sides.
- The statements from the complainant, respondent and any witnesses will then be provided to the Sexual Harassment Panel. The panel will be appointed by the NEC, and will be supported by the Complaints Officer.
- All statements will be anonymised before being put in front of the panel, so they will not know the names of the individuals involved in the case.
- Should the panel decide if there is a case to answer, they will decide whether to take a formal or informal resolution route in consultation with the complainant.
- The Sexual Harassment Panel reserve the right to request separate interviews with complainant and respondent. Both parties may be accompanied.
- The Panel may offer their findings to the Member Conduct Committee following their investigations.
- Both the complainant and respondent will be informed of the decision of the Panel normally within 14 days of the evidence being seen by the Panel.
At no point in the process will the complainant be required to confront the respondent face to face. Details of the complaint, including your identity will be restricted to only those within the process and dealt with in the strictest confidence.
Reporting of complaints, or the outcome of the panel should not be commented on publicly (in either media outlets or on social channels) and any attempts to do so will be reported to the National Secretary for disciplinary action.
Support for Staff
In addition to the support available from the SNP centrally, staff (HQ, Holyrood and Westminster Group staff and constituency, and elected members have the additional support of Harassment Advisers.
These advisers are trained in how to deal with issues around bullying and harassment, in order to listen to staff and elected members who believe they are being bullied or harassed, to clarify the options open to them and to assist them in resolving the matter.
Where appropriate one of each of the advisers in both Parliaments should be an elected member, and the other a member of staff. All contact will be in the strictest confidence. Harassment Advisers are able to offer advice only, and have no formal role in reporting or disciplinary procedures.
Where a number of concerns have been raised with a Harassment Advisor regarding the same person, indicating a pattern of behaviour, the Advisor may report these to the Sexual Harassment Panel for further investigation. Complainants will be advised before the report is made.
Complainants will be offered use of the SNP’s wellbeing service. The service is free of charge and anonymous.
Alternatively, the Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline is for anyone over 13 who has experienced sexual harassment, no matter when or how it happened.
The RCS Helpline offers short-term free and confidential support and information over the phone and by email. You do not need to give your name or any information about yourself.
The helpline is open daily between 6pm and midnight on Freephone: 08088 01 03 02 or can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.