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UKRI publishes Preventing harm policy for safe research and innovation environments


UKRI publishes Preventing harm policy for safe research and innovation environments
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) outlines a framework to support organisations and individuals to ensure abuse and exploitation is prevented and addressed across research and innovation environments
  • New policy builds on existing good practice to help organisations anticipate, mitigate and address potential or actual harms within their research and innovation activities
  • The policy builds on UKRI's commitment in 2018, alongside other major UK funders of international development research to prevent and tackle harm and abuse across the sector

As the UK's largest funder of research and innovation, UKRI is committed to playing a leading role in ensuring the highest possible standards across the research and innovation landscape to ensure safe, exploitation-free environments for all, and today (19 May) has published its Preventing harm (safeguarding) in research and innovation policy to support organisations achieve this.

Professor Andrew Thompson, UKRI's International Champion, said: "Just as research and innovation are global endeavors, we expect that the highest safeguarding standards will be used across the sector so we can be confident that people and communities around the world involved in research and innovation are safe and protected from harm, abuse and exploitation of any kind.

"This new policy puts safeguarding in the spotlight to ensure that UKRI can work with all its stakeholders to build on best practice where it exists and drive up standards in organisational culture, systems and practice to prevent and tackle exploitation, abuse and harm."

UKRI's Preventing harm policy provides a framework to help organisations critically reflect on their current policies and procedures and identify any gaps  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.

The development of this policy is the result of an 18 month process, following UKRI's commitment in 2018, alongside other major funders of international development research, to work with the research and innovation sector to enhance approaches to safeguarding. This led to UKRI, Wellcome Trust, Department of Health and Social Care, Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and Department for International Development, through the UK Collaboration on Development Research (UKCDR) publishing new guidance to prevent and tackle harm and abuse across the international development research sector in general as well as in emergency situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Thompson explains: "The current pandemic is a timely reminder of the crucial role of researchers and innovators around the world, and also of our shared responsibility to ensure all involved in the sector are protected from harm through enhanced vigilance and proactive measures to prevent and address exploitation, abuse and harm in all situations."

UKRI's Preventing harm policy is being published now as part of an extended consultation period to give stakeholders time to engage with the policy and feedback comments and suggestions, ahead of it formally coming into effect from 1 April 2021.

This Preventing harm policy aligns with UKRI's expectations of research organisations on addressing bullying and harassment and now sets out actions we may take where incidents arise. UKRI's bullying and harassment position statement (PDF, 981KB) sets out UKRI's wider programme of work in this area and how we are working with partners to create safe and inclusive environments, including by supporting culture change.

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