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FYI : Important Information on Safety and CS
Posted January 26th, 2012 - 9:51 am by from Gifu, Japan (Permalink)
David allowed me to share this information to you.

Hello Dear Ambassadors and Community Builders,

First of all, let me wish you a good 2012 and a great year of the Dragon. This is a special message, so please read carefully.

As active and visible members of the community, Ambassadors are likely to meet members who need advice or help. In very rare instances, this may be a serious situation (such as a crime being committed). It is not your obligation to help someone, but of course many of you will because that is what this community is like! If you do it's good to know what to do.

Below, I am copying new instructions that will be added to the safety section of the website in coming days. It is the steps that anyone should take if they have been scammed or involved in a serious situation through CS. Please read it and remember it. There are four important steps and they should always happen from the first to the last.

It is important to know that you can help the member by supporting them and guiding them but not by acting for them. They will need to speak to police and to the CS safety team for themselves so that their account of what happened is on record. Your friendship and support will make these things easier for them.

Again, crime and scams are very rare within the CouchSurfing community, but it is always best to be more prepared than you need to be than to encounter a situation and not know what to do.

Thank you very much and please do take the time to read carefully.


How to Respond to a Serious Incident

When you meet new people, there is always a risk. And while negative CS experiences are rare - and dangerous situations are even rarer - if you've had one, it's important to take the right steps to make sure that your well-being is taken care of. If you have been the victim of a crime, follow these steps.

Alert the proper authorities and seek professional support. The first and most important thing to do is to contact the police, your country's embassy, a lawyer, and/or the hospital. They are empowered to protect you and help you take legal action against the person who has harmed you. The more quickly you do this, the more likely it is that they will be able to find the person and begin an investigation. We also encourage you to seek professional help from counselors or organized support groups if you feel stressed or depressed by the situation.

Brief the CouchSurfing team on the situation. Once you are safe and being properly supported, contact us to report what happened. Be sure to include a link to the profile of the person you are reporting so that we can identify them. We will immediately search through our records to see if there is any information that may be helpful in a legal investigation.

Please note that you must contact us yourself, or the authorities may contact us for you; we can't take a report from your friend or family member. Our team has been supporting CouchSurfing members for many years and observes a strict policy of confidentiality.

Connect the authorities with the CouchSurfing team. CouchSurfing is not a law enforcement agency and is not authorized or able to conduct a police investigation. However, we will do everything in our power to assist an investigation, including speaking directly with the authorities and releasing relevant records from our system upon proper legal request.

Once we have received a copy of the police report or other legal documents and verified them, we will take action to keep the accused person from further participating in the CouchSurfing community.

Draft a reference and send it to the CouchSurfing team. If law enforcement is not involved in your case, CouchSurfing is required to stay neutral (see below for more information). If this happens, it is very important that you leave the other person a reference that clearly describes what happened. It may feel uncomfortable to publicly discredit someone, but the information that you share will help others to avoid a bad experience.

Our reference guidelines are designed to keep references clear, relevant to the experience being described, and concise. When you are angry, threatened, or hurt, it can be very difficult to write this way. This is why we recommend that before posting your reference, you send it to the team member that you have been in contact with. They can tell you whether or not what you have written is within our guidelines and terms of use.

CouchSurfing's Neutrality Policy

CouchSurfing follows a policy of neutrality. Without evidence of a legal investigation into an incident, the organization cannot remove someone's profile or publicly accuse them of a crime or of being a danger to others.

The unfortunate fact is that if we weren't there and our systems contain no evidence for either side, we can't know exactly what happened. Our policies are in place to make sure that we treat all of our members fairly based on the facts that are available to us.

We have designed our policies so that we can act as early as possible on a report. A verified police report will allow us to take action against the accused member. This may include investigating their history of use, banning them from the site, or warning other members, depending on the case. Until we receive this paperwork, or we are able to locate information in our system that verifies one person's version of events, we are unable to take action.

Posted January 26th, 2012 - 11:27 am by from Morioka, Japan (Permalink)
Thank you!
This is stuff that is really good to know.

Posted January 27th, 2012 - 1:13 pm by from Gifu, Japan (Permalink)
It's my pleasure. Useful information should be shared.