This reporting protocol is part of the Code of Good Conduct and describes how to act in situations involving (suspected) undesirable behavior and how and with whom to report it.
Other components are the Rules of Good Conduct, Confidential Advisors and the Independent Complaints Committee.

Why and for whom is this protocol?

The protocol covers contact between volunteers, participants, visitors, employees and others at the COC. The protocol offers protection to the reporter and to those who act according to the protocol, to the suspected victim and to the person accused. The protocol also gives you an obligation: you must act in the manner laid down.

This reporting protocol also includes a complaints procedure that is put into effect after a complaint is made. If there is a (suspected) criminal offense, it will be reported to the police. Furthermore, reporting may lead to (provisional) disciplinary measures with respect to the accused.

The board of the legal entity within which the (suspected) inappropriate behavior took place is responsible for dealing with each report as carefully and objectively as possible. To investigate a report, the board may call on the federation's independent complaints committee.

This protocol pays special attention to reports of (suspected) sexually transgressive behavior and sexual abuse of vulnerable groups, such as minors.

Report or complaint

The Rules of Conduct articulate the behaviors expected of everyone at the COC. Undesirable behavior is about exceeding those rules of manners. Violation can include bullying, gossiping or more serious matters such as sexual abuse.

Principles:

  1. Anyone can report or file a complaint about inappropriate behavior.
  2. Every report or complaint is always taken seriously and handled with integrity and fairness.

Complaint:

  • A complaint, if upheld, will result in disciplinary action.
  • Complaints are always referred to the independent complaints committee.
  • The grievance committee itself is the gatekeeper over the complaints it handles.

Notification:

  • A report can often be resolved with a good discussion with those involved, within a working group or with the organization's board.
  • A report may be taken up internally, but may still lead to a complaint. Complaints are always submitted to the independent complaints committee.

Signaling task

Everyone within the association has a responsibility in spotting (suspected) cross-border behavior. It is not only about the grosser forms, but also the so-called 'smaller' cross-border behavior. If you identify milder forms of transgressive behavior, you are expected to address the person(s) involved and take corrective action.

When to report to whom

A report is discussed as close to the situation as possible to resolve the problem.

  • When rules are violated within a team or work group, the board will be informed, but will first see if the team or work group can resolve the situation themselves. If not, the board will be called in. The board can, depending on the situation, intervene and work with those involved to find a solution.
  • Violations of the rules by coordinators, or volunteers not on a regular team, will involve the board. 
  • If a board member violates the rules, the first step is to see if the situation can be resolved within the board.
  • When crimes are reported or suspected, the board may report them to the police.
  • Suspected sexual abuse of minors, mentally retarded persons is always reported to the police.

Duty to report (suspected/signs of) sexual abuse!

Anyone who suspects sexual abuse or other inappropriate behavior, or hears about it, is required to report it to the board.

When in doubt about the seriousness or justification of a suspicion, there is a duty to consult with a confidential advisor who can be asked for advice.

If employees express (suspicions of) sexual abuse directly to their coordinator, the coordinator will not take action himself, but will involve the board.

The duty to report overrides any other interests that might be at stake, such as the (minor) victim's desire for confidentiality.

It is not for employees to engage in truth-telling; this may interfere with any legal process. Note: a report is not an accusation! After a report is made, a careful and objective investigation is carried out into what is going on. The privacy and interests of both the alleged victim and the accused are taken into account.

If desired, the board of a member association may seek advice from COC Netherlands' federation affairs staff member on further courses of action, for example:

  • Conversation with accused;
  • Informational discussion with police in cases of sexually transgressive behavior;
  • Establish emergency response team;
  • Initiate reporting procedure;
  • Report to police sexual transgressive behavior among youth up to 18 years of age;
  • Provisional measures towards the suspected perpetrator/accused;
  • Secure and shelter the victim;
  • Information to stakeholders;
  • Aftercare.

Provisional duty of silence following a report of a suspected crime

In addition to the duty to report, the board, the reporter and employees within the organization have a provisional duty of silence towards third parties. Those involved can, however, express themselves to the confidential advisor. This obligation of silence is necessary so that no more persons are involved in a case than is necessary for careful handling. It must be prevented that rumors arise and someone is labeled "guilty" in advance. The duty of silence is also important to ensure that any criminal proceedings are not hindered.

Do

  • Ensure the safety of the victim.
  • If you catch someone in the act:
    • Do not leave the victim alone;
    • Report it immediately to the team coordinator or a board member.
  • If the situation is threatening: call 911 so the police can intervene;
  • Leave the condition untouched as much as possible due to possible trace evidence. Call the vice police (112), report what it is about and ask for instructions. Ask as few questions as possible. Listen and put the child at ease.
  • Write everything down as literally and factually as possible, including the questions you asked.
  • Tell that you are required to report the story to the board, but that no steps will be taken without the knowledge of the victim.
  • Report the suspicion to the board immediately. If in doubt consult the confidential advisor.
  • If desired, refer the person to a confidential advisor.
  • Inform the coordinator or a board member of the situation as soon as possible.
  • Remain available to the child/youth and continue to provide normal counseling.

Let

  • Never act on your own!
  • Do not interrogate the alleged victim. Hearing out the suspected victim and/or speaking with contacts of the suspected victim may interfere with any legal process. It is not for the employee to engage in truth-telling!
  • If suspected, never contact the suspected perpetrator yourself, even if it is a fellow volunteer. The best way to stop and address the abuse is an objective and official investigation.
  • Remember the (provisional) duty of silence!
  • Never promise confidentiality, even when a victim asks for it.