Contact Policy

This is a summary of our Contact Policy, it may be read in full in our Reading Room.

1. Summary

By providing a ‘Contact Us’ facility via forms, email addresses or telephone numbers on our web and Facebook pages we hope to provide a service which is accessible to all.

SSACN has limited resources.

Our primary concern is to maximize the benefit we can get from them and whilst communicating our activities is very important we do have to prioritize our work, to that end, in responding to queries we will endeavour to :

  • Respond to a Member’s query within 5 working days.

  • Respond to a non-Member’s query within 10 working days.

  • Make it clear what SSACN can or cannot do in relation to an inquiry, including where appropriate, passing a query on to a more relevant body in it’s original form content and language.

  • Be open and not raise hopes or expectations that we cannot meet.

  • Deal fairly, honestly, consistently and appropriately with all queries.

At the same time we have a ‘duty of care’ to our staff and we need to ensure they suffer the minimum of aggressive or abusive behaviour. To that end we:

  • Expect our staff to be treated with courteously and respect.

  • Will not reply to queries based on unsubstantiated allegations or accusations.

  • Will not reply to queries expressed in manners which we deem to be unacceptable, too aggressive or abusive.

  • Reserve the right to use examples of correspondence for training and education purposes may be useful in future (example at Appx A).

Unfortunately there are those who abuse our facility, misrepresent us or continually undertake actions aimed at undermining our operation. For people such as these we reserve the right not to respond to them.

 

2. Defining Unacceptable Queries / Postings

These definitions apply equally to comments raised on our social media presences or through any of our contact mechanisms. Communications are deemed Unacceptable if they :

  • Are made without any means of contacting the originator.

  • Attempt to ‘hijack’ a thread or discussion on any of SSACN’s own social media.

  • Are sarcastic, defamatory, excessively aggressive or which make unsubstantiated accusations or allegations.

  • Make unreasonable demands for answers based on unfounded allegations or unsubstantiated claims made by the enquirer and/or third party.

  • Repeatedly change the substance of a query or raise unrelated concerns in order to perpetuate a discussion.

  • Cause any member of SSACN staff to feel afraid, threatened or abused.

  • Have been reported to us as causing distress or similar to any Member of SSACN or the general public and which we have reviewed and found unacceptable.

It is these types of behaviour, plus others as and when they may arise, that we aim to manage under this Policy.

The following sections discuss in further detail our expectations, what we consider as unacceptable behaviour and what steps we will take in the event we consider a communication to be unacceptable. They apply equally to all form of communication.

2.1 Aggressive or Abusive Behaviour

  • Violence is not restricted to acts of aggression that may result in physical harm. It also includes behaviour or language (whether oral or written) that may cause staff to feel afraid, threatened or abused.

  • Examples of behaviours grouped under this heading include threats, physical violence, personal verbal abuse, derogatory remarks and rudeness. We also consider that inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated allegations can be abusive behaviour.

  • We expect our staff to be treated courteously and with respect. Violence or abuse towards staff is unacceptable.

      2.2 Unreasonable Demands

The SSACN ‘Contact’ and social media facilities are staffed solely by volunteers who give freely of their time and who will make every effort to respond in a timely fashion, we do not have the bandwidth to address unreasonable demands

  • What amounts to unreasonable demands will always depend on the circumstances surrounding the issue and the membership status of the individual raising it.

  • Examples of actions grouped under this heading include demanding responses within an unreasonable time-scale, insisting on answers to unfounded allegations or unsubstantiated claims, repeatedly changing the substance of a query or raising unrelated concerns.

We consider these demands even more unacceptable and unreasonable when personal attacks on SSACN volunteers or misrepresentations of SSACN volunteers or policies are then carried out in other media.

      2.3 Unreasonable Persistence

This is a form of attack regularly practiced by internet trolls.

Unreasonable demands and persistence become even more unacceptable when they take up what SSACN regards as being a disproportionate amount of time and resources.

  • We recognize that some correspondents will not or cannot accept that the SSACN is unable to assist them further or provide a level of service other than that provided already.

  • Examples of actions grouped under this heading include persistent refusal to accept a decision made in relation to an issue, persistent refusal to accept explanations relating to what SSACN can or cannot do and continuing to pursue an issue without presenting any new information.

The way in which these complainants approach our office may be entirely reasonable, but it is their persistent behaviour in continuing to do so that is not.

3. Managing Unacceptable Actions

  • There are relatively few queries or people whose actions we consider unacceptable.

  • How we aim to manage these actions depends on their nature and extent.

  • If it adversely affects our ability to do our work and provide a service to others, we may need to restrict an individual’s contact with our office.

  • We may restrict contact in person, by telephone, fax, letter or electronically or by any combination of these.

  • The threat or use of physical violence, verbal abuse or harassment towards SSACN staff may result in the ending of all direct contact with the individual concerned – Member or not. Incidents may be reported to the police. This will always be the case if physical violence is used or threatened.

  • We will not deal with any form of communication that is abusive to staff or contains allegations that lack substantive evidence. If this happens we will decline to respond clearly stating those grounds.

  • Where someone refuses to accept the answer we have given and repeatedly raises the same issues, we will explain that there will be no further discussion on the issue concerned.

  • Where someone, especially a non-Member of SSACN, continues to correspond on a wide range of issues their action will be considered excessive and they will be asked to limit or focus their questions accordingly.

Ultimately, where someone’s actions are considered unreasonably persistent and the individual continues to dispute SSACN’s response or decision relating to their issue they will be placed on the ‘no personal contact’ list and only acknowledged or responded to if the future if they provide significant new information relating to the issue.

4. Deciding to Restrict Contact

  • SSACN staff who directly experience aggressive or abusive behaviour should immediately restrict any contact with the individual(s) concerned to pointing out this policy and that action will be taken appropriate to the situation and in line with this Policy.

  • With the exception of such immediate restrictions taken at the time of an incident, decisions to totally restrict contact with SSACN will only be taken after careful consideration of the situation by the Management Team.

  • Wherever possible, we will give Members the opportunity to modify their behaviour or before a decision is taken; non-members may not be afforded the same privilege.

Any questions, queries etc regarding this document may be sent via the ‘Contact Us’ page of our website www.ssacn.org