New Guidance on Serious Incident Reporting

Do you know what Northern Ireland’s charity regulator would expect you to do if a serious incident occurs within your charity?

That is the question the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland aims to answer with its new guidance, Serious Incident Reporting: A Guide for Charity Trustees.

“Should a serious incident occur in a charity, trustees are expected to follow the correct processes to manage the incident and report it to the Commission,” explained Commission Chief Executive Frances McCandless.

“The Commission’s role is to ensure that trustees take appropriate steps to limit the immediate impact of the incident and prevent it from happening again.

“Our new guidance acts as a step-by-step guide for trustees, highlighting what constitutes a serious incident, as well as when and how to report the incident to the Commission.”The Commission regards a serious incident as an adverse event, whether actual or alleged, which results in, or risks, a significant:

  • loss of charity money or assets
  • damage to charity property
  • harm to the work of the charity, its beneficiaries or reputation.

The most common types of incident include frauds, thefts, significant financial losses, money laundering, criminal breaches, allegations of terrorism or extremism, and safeguarding issues.

If a serious incident takes place, charity trustees are expected to report what happened to the Commission and explain how it is being managed. Incidents should be reported to the Commission even if the trustees have already reported them to the PSNI, donors or another regulator.

Ms McCandless added: “No one wants to see a serious incident occur in any organisation, but it’s important that should such an incident occur trustees know how to deal with it.

“Being a charity trustee is a responsible role and it’s vital that trustees are aware of all their legal duties and responsibilities - reading our guidance is a first step.”

The Commission has produced guidance on serious incident reporting.