Policy for dealing with harassment, bullying and hate incidents.

1.    Introduction and scope of this policy

1.1 The purpose of this policy is to provide procedures and mechanisms to report and address incidents of harassment, bullying and hate incidents appropriately. 

1.2 The aims of this policy are to:

  • provide definitions of harassment, bullying and hate incidents,
  • raise awareness of the effects of harassment, bullying and hate incidents on individuals,
  • provide procedures and mechanisms for reporting and addressing reports of harassment, bullying and hate incidents. 

1.3 The University has a responsibility, not only to foster good relations between people of the same and different groups, but also to eliminate all forms of harassment and discrimination.1 

1.4 There is an expectation that all members of the University community will uphold the principles of treating each other with dignity and respect as set out in this policy which applies to:

  • all members of staff,
  • all registered students,
  • others not directly employed by the University (including visiting academics, external contractors and their employees, and wholly owned or majority owned subsidiary companies),
  • members of Council, Senate and Co-opted committee members
  • all visitors to the University.

1.5 While this policy applies to both staff and students at the University, there are separate procedures to deal with reports against members of staff and reports against students.

2.    Policy statement

2.1 The University of York is committed to creating a working, learning, social and living environment which is safe, inclusive and welcoming for everyone.2 All members of our community have the right to a fair, welcoming and inclusive environment that is free from all forms of harassment and bullying.

2.2 The University believes harassment, bullying or hate incidents within any working, learning or social environment has a potential detrimental effect on the confidence, morale, wellbeing, health and performance of those affected by it.

2.3 The University values academic enquiry in an open and robust learning, teaching and research environment. While we encourage academic freedom to debate and challenge lawful viewpoints we are all expected to treat each other with dignity and respect, recognising that our staff, students and wider communities have diverse identities, abilities and experiences. This however does not mean that academic freedom is unfettered. It may be limited should this impact the safety and rights of others, and more importantly amount to harassment, bullying or hate incidents, as described in section 3. 

2.4 The University strongly encourages those who have experienced or witnessed any form of harassment, bullying or hate incidents to report such incidents and take action through this policy and procedure. Should such incidents relate to staff and members of the York University Students Union (YUSU), Graduate Students Association (GSA) and their clubs or societies we encourage the use of the YUSU and GSA policies, procedures and advice, listed in section 11. 

3.    Definitions

We have provided definitions for the terms used in this document.


4    Confidentiality

4.1 All evidence provided under this policy and procedure will be treated in a sensitive and confidential manner. Information will be shared on a need-to-know basis, including as appropriate with the reported staff member. Unnecessary disclosure of such allegations may result in disciplinary action. 

4.2 As part of the investigatory process the identity of the individual(s) providing the evidence may have to be revealed and, as appropriate, they may be requested to make a statement and/or attend an investigatory interview or be part of a fact finding process.

5.   Anonymous reporting

Individuals raising a report are encouraged to identify themselves. Typically, information from reports made anonymously will only be used to monitor the levels of incidents across the campus. However, depending on the seriousness of the issue, the credibility of the concern, and importantly, any evidence available in an anonymous report and the likelihood of being able to investigate the matter, the University may investigate an anonymous report and confirm the information from alternative sources.

6.    Reports made in good faith

6.1 This policy is intended to promote a consistent approach in handling reports that are made in good faith.

6.2 No action will be taken if a report which, following an investigation, proves to be unfounded and is judged to have been made in good faith.If there is evidence that allegations of harassment or bullying have been made vexatiously, that false information has been provided or that the person making the report has otherwise acted maliciously, appropriate action may be taken against them under this policy or under the relevant disciplinary procedures.10

7.    Counter reports

7.1 It is acknowledged that counter-reports of harassment, bullying and hate incidents sometimes arise when a report is made. In the event that a report gives rise to counter-reports, where appropriate, these should be considered at the same time as the original report, as an independent report. 

8.    Collective reports of harassment, bullying and hate incidents

8.1 Reports that are brought by more than one individual about the same issue, will be considered on a case by case basis depending on the nature of the report. 

8.2 The same procedure will apply and, where necessary, such reports will be overseen by one Investigating Manager and investigated by one Investigating Officer to ensure consistency of approach.

8.3 Each individual member of the collective report must provide specific details of the incident(s) as it relates to them personally. It should be noted that investigations involving a collective report are likely to take longer to investigate and therefore the indicative timescales may need to be extended.

9.     Record keeping

9.1 The University and all those involved in following this policy and procedures will comply with the principles of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

10.     Review of policy and procedure

10.1 This policy and procedure will be reviewed by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee three years after implementation.

11.    Other University policies and guidance

11.1 This Policy can be read in conjunction with the following policies and procedures:

Approved by UEB, March 2020.


  1. Public Sector Equality Duty, defined under the Equality Act 2010
  2. University of York Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

Contact us

Equality and Diversity Office

+44 (0)1904 324680

Contact us

Equality and Diversity Office

+44 (0)1904 324680