Misconduct Disclosure Scheme prevents hundreds of potential SEAH cases

29 April 2024

The Misconduct Disclosure Scheme (MDS) has now blocked a record 385 hires from individuals with history of SEAH moving between aid organisations.

The Scheme, hosted by CHS Alliance in collaboration with the SCHR, with funding from the UK FCDO, facilitates the sharing of misconduct data between employers, to stop known perpetrators of sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment (SEAH) move undetected between organisations.

To find out how the Scheme can help reduce the risk of sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment (SEAH) in your organisation and the communities you serve, visit https://misconduct-disclosure-scheme.org/

The Scheme was launched in January 2019 to address the specific problem of known sexual abusers moving between organisations undetected.

A key way to tackle SEAH is to stop abusers’ ability to continue holding positions of power after misconduct is uncovered. Individuals who have been found guilty of sexually abusing, exploiting, or harassing people may go on to harm again. To mitigate the risk of abusers being hired by other organisations, the Scheme helps strengthen organisation’s recruitment referencing practices and provides a safe way to request and share information related to SEAH cases which were investigated and substantiated in the past.

The Scheme complements other vetting processes, such as police checks, as it picks up perpetrators who have had disciplinary processes completed against them, or who are subject to ongoing investigation, but who may not have committed crimes or been investigated by the police.

Between 2019 and 2023 more than 137,000 checks have now been conducted through the MDS, resulting in 385 applications being rejected at recruitment stage.

As of March 2024, more than 260 organisations globally are implementing the Scheme. 75 new organisations joined in 2023, making it the year with the highest sign-up so far, with about half of the new signatories being local, national or regional organisations based outside Western Europe and North America.

Among the MDS implementing organisations are INGOs, local and national NGOs, UN agencies, private sector organisations, aid and development networks. This diversity shows the strong commitment that exists across the aid community to work together to create a safer system.

The UN Report of the Secretary-General on Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse mentions the MDS among the tools used by UN agencies to strengthen recruitment screening, and its complementarity with the UN background check system, ClearCheck.

The Misconduct Disclosure Scheme is also being promoted among UK universities by The 1752 group, which focuses on sexual misconduct in UK higher education, and recently reported by Nature and The New Humanitarian.

All CHS Alliance members and partners are strongly encouraged to join the MDS -it’s free!- to better meet their CHS commitments on protecting potentially vulnerable people and coordinating across the aid system.

If you are not part of the MDS yet, check how to join or contact mds@chsalliance.org