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Preventing Harm (Safeguarding) in Research and Innovation

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) believes that everyone has a right to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect. We are committed to promoting safe research and innovation environments, which are free from sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, bullying, psychological abuse and physical violence, for all individuals that are employed on, participate in, or otherwise come into contact with, the research and innovation activities that we fund.

In October 2018, UKRI along with other UK funders of international development research (Wellcome Trust, Department of Health and Social Care, Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and Department for International Development) jointly committed to working with the research and innovation sector to enhance the approach to safeguarding, building on good practice where it exists.

Since then on behalf of the funders of international development research (including UKRI), the UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) has undertaken an extensive process of consultation to develop an evidence base to inform best practice guidance and principles to prevent and tackle harm and abuse in the research and innovation sector. The evidence review, guidance and consultation report were used to inform the development of the UKRI policy on ‘Preventing Harm (Safeguarding) in Research and Innovation (PDF, 8.3MB)’.

UKRI recognises that many organisations already have practices and procedures in place to prevent and address potential or actual harms to their staff, students, associated personnel and visitors and those that come into contact with their operations, programmes and activities. The UKRI policy is intended to act as a framework to aid organisations to critically reflect on and identify any gaps in their current provisions, so that they are better placed to anticipate, mitigate and address any actual or potential exploitation, abuse and harm in their research and innovation activities.

UKRI appreciate that time is needed for organisations to reflect on the new policy and to take any necessary action(s). For this reason, an updated Term and Condition requiring organisations to be compliant with the policy will be applied to new UKRI grants from March/April 2021. This transition period is intended to give organisations time to review and where necessary refine their practices and procedures before the policy comes into effect.

This policy applies to all UKRI funded activities irrespective of whether they take place in the UK, or overseas and to all individuals and organisations receiving UKRI funding either directly, or indirectly through a partner organisation.

Please note, this policy sits alongside and complements the UKRI bullying and harassment position statement and programme of work, the UKRI stance on equality, diversity and inclusion and the Research Councils' Policy and Guidelines on Governance of Good Research Conduct (PDF, 293KB).

We welcome any feedback or enquiries about the policy itself. Please contact us on: preventingharmpolicy@ukri.org

(Please note this inbox is not intended for the reporting of allegations. As per the UKRI policy, allegations of exploitation, abuse and harm must be reported to the employing, or enrolling organisation of the person against whom the allegation is being made and/or the appropriate authorities.)

See also: