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13/09/2022

Reminder to All Charities to Report Safeguarding Incidents

Given the work carried out by many charities there is a possibility that serious incidents may occur. These might involve actual or attempted fraud, theft or safeguarding issues. Dealing appropriately with these types of events can help protect your charity from further harm and ensure that public confidence is maintained. Most problems can be resolved by charity trustees, sometimes with the support of professional advisers. Even so, an actual or alleged incident must be promptly reported to all the relevant authorities.

Charity trustees are also required to report what happened to the Commission and explain how it is being managed. The Commission’s role is to ensure that the charity trustees manage the incident responsibly and comply with their legal duties. Reporting to the Commission provides the opportunity for us to offer guidance and help to charity trustees to prevent these situations arising again.

A key issue is that many charity trustees are not aware that they have a duty to report these incidents to the Commission. Even though, for many charities, the Commission is the only regulator they report to.

It is important that charity trustees of all registered charities, no matter what size, understand this duty to report serious incidents. There is evidence that fraud is under-reported in charities and this suggests that safeguarding issues may also be under-reported.

If your charity experiences a safeguarding issue you must follow these steps:

  1. Report the incident to the Commission as soon as possible.
  2. Tell us what you are doing to manage the situation and what other regulators you have told about the incident.
  3. Provide the name of the person who is suspected in this incident, even if an allegation is not yet proved.

By reporting the serious incident as soon as possible charity trustees can take steps to limit the immediate impact of the incident and prevent it from happening again.

Below are the answers to some question’s charity trustees may ask about reporting these incidents to the Commission.

  • Will we be in breach of our data protection duties?
    Charity trustees reporting a serious incident to the Commission will not be in breach of the Data Protection Act if they pass this information to the Commission. These disclosures to a regulatory body are protected. The Commission will deal with this information according to the Data Protection Impact Assessment which it has developed in line with the advice and guidance of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  • Why does the Commission need to know about these incidents?
    The Commission needs to know that you are handling the situation correctly. We also need to check if anyone suspected of safeguarding offences is involved with another charity. While the likelihood of this may be low, the risk to individuals and a charity if it is true can be very high.
    Knowing your charity will report serious incidents, either actual or alleged, can also act as a deterrent to someone who is thinking about doing something wrong.
  • What will the Commission do with this information?
    The Commission will check that the charity trustees are handing the incident correctly. We will provide regulatory guidance, if that is needed, and point you in the right direction. We will also check that the person suspected of a serious incident is not a trustee elsewhere in the charity sector.

You can read the Commission’s guidance on Serious incident reporting at this link to the Commission’s website.