Posted: August 8, 2018
As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.
Our participants put their faith in us to look after them and to enable them to contribute fully to the impactful work taking place at GVI programs without fear or concern.
This is why we have an emergency action plan in place for each and every situation that might arise. These are classified into five ascending levels of severity.
GVI’s commitment to promoting participant safety and security is no less true for incidents of petty crime – a Level 1 incident – as participant Candice* experienced.
One afternoon, while going about her business like on any other regular day on base, Candice went from her dormitory to the kitchen.
The base accommodation in Cap Ternay, while quite remove from local communities on the island due to its remote location, does have areas that are open to access from outside. This is particularly true of the beach-facing side of the base, where participants launch the diving boat from the beach to conduct their daily marine research.
During her time spent in the kitchen, the door to her dorm was left ajar. There is very rarely cause for concern about petty theft, and though participants are encouraged frequently by staff to ensure that all unattended rooms on base are locked, participants feel safe leaving for short periods of time without locking up, and rightly so. Petty theft on base is highly infrequent.
Ten minutes after Candice left for the kitchen, Jessica* – another marine conservation participant – walked toward the dormitories. She climbed the stairs, which was when she noticed a stranger leaving the base perimeter.
Jessica didn’t follow him, but she did manage to get a good description of the individual and she raised an alarm to the rest of the base.
Candice came back to her dorm room to discover her bag open on her bed and 2,500 rupees missing (an equivalent of £140). The participants then immediately looked for the staff on base at the time.
Andrea Ezeta, Science Officer for GVI Seychelles Mahe, attended to the incident swiftly, and immediately put the emergency action plan into place, as all of our field staff are trained to do. She immediately contacted the local police and alerted the Regional Director for Seychelles Chris Mason-Parker to the incident.
Officers from the Seychelles Police Force arrived at the base 20 minutes after the call and talked to both volunteers.
After that, Stewart Porter – a Dive Officer and field staff member – accompanied Candice and Jessica to the police station in the nearby town of Port Glaud where they gave their statements and opened a case.
It’s a truly unpleasant experience to have something stolen from a place that is safe and secure 99% of the time. Petty crime can happen anywhere, however.
To prevent further incidents, all staff and volunteers were gathered and informed of the incident. It was once again stressed that everyone needs to be vigilant about locking their dorm rooms, and either covering valuables from sight, or locking them away in the safe locker that is available for all participants to use.
At the time of this case study, there are plans underway to increase security at the base by preventing outsiders from entering without permission.
Speak to us about our support and safety protocols.
*Participant names have been changed out of respect for their privacy.