Statement - 15/10/21
It seems that there has been a fundamental misunderstanding in respect of the data provided in the original FOI response.
The FOI response clearly separated information relating:
- Disclosures that are made to the University’s Disclosure Response team for support; and
- Formal complaints that have been received by the University under its conduct regulations in respect of allegations of sexual misconduct.
If these two set of data are conflated, it provides an extremely misleading picture.
1. The Disclosure Response Team (DRT) performs a specific role, offering support to students who come forward. It is a team of specialist staff trained to respond to disclosures of violence and abuse. The FOI made clear that the DRT supports the disclosure of incidents to support students. This may include discussing their options regarding reporting of the incident. However, the disclosure of an incident/concern to DRT is confidential; the University is able only to consider disciplinary action where a complaint is made under University processes such as formal complaints.
The DRT supports students affected by harassment, hate crime, sexual violence, relationship abuse and other forms of unacceptable behaviour. It is not a de facto route for complaints. The numbers reflected the proactive measure put in place by the University to make it easier for students to come forward.
As explained in the FOI response, some disclosures to DRT relate to historic incidents and some may not involve Cardiff University students/staff as alleged perpetrators; the University would not be able to take action in either of those situations in any event if they fall outside University procedures.
The University procedures regarding student conduct can be pursued only in respect of registered students.
Cardiff University believes it is important that all students can make confidential disclosures and access confidential support. The University accepts that some students choose to contact DRT for support and may not wish to relive experiences via an immediate formal complaints’ procedure. The disclosures may relate to historic instances and/or those that do not involve University staff or students.
To provide this support and options to our students, the reporting of complaints/concerns is necessarily separate from DRT disclosure.
2. DRT disclosures can become complaints, but only with the discloser’s consent. Complaints may also be received from other third parties. The FOI response reported separately the number of complaints received under the University’s conduct processes. Each complaint is considered individually on the facts of the case. There are a range of actions available to the University including formal investigation.
Where a breach of conduct procedures is upheld sanctions will be imposed (as set out in our Procedures which have been provided to you). There will be occasions when the University does not act under the procedure and this may be for one of a number of reasons e.g. the person reported is no longer a student at the University, or there is insufficient evidence for an investigation to take place.
Students who bring complaints are offered DRT support during the complaints process.