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Samaritans will start to monitor phone calls after it was alleged that some volunteers met vulnerable callers for sex.
A report by the Daily Telegraph claimed a number of “middle-aged” men from a "specific demographic" met up with women for sex after first speaking with them on phone.
It is thought that 44 “serious safeguarding incidents” had taken place since 2017.
The Samaritans charity helps provide emotional support to people in severe distress, emotional turmoil or at a suicide risk.
The service has around 20,000 volunteers and has taken over 17 million calls since 2017.
Recruitment is strict, with those who volunteer having to abide by a strict code of conduct to protect vulnerable people.
Speaking anonymously to The Telegraph, one volunteer said: “I've been a volunteer for six years and I've never seen anything like this.
“I felt quite angry that someone could have done it. Obviously, we are speaking to vulnerable people day in and day out. It amazes you that someone could abuse that trust.
“From hearing the talk, I thought it could only be about one of two things - it was either going to be about inappropriate contact over the calls or someone meeting up out of branch. But if there's one thing that’s a big no, it’s that. It’s massive.
"We’re really well trained but that's the worst thing anyone can do.”
The report says that branches of the charity were informed earlier this month, with call monitoring to be introduced later this year.
Julie Bentley, the chief executive of Samaritans, told Tyla: “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.
“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.”
Tyla has contacted the Samaritans for comment.
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