Bristol charity closes down after police investigate alleged financial issues

Trustees of Bristol and South Gloucestershire People First, which provided services for people with learning difficulties, closed the charity down on 3 April

Bristold and South Gloucestershire People First
Bristold and South Gloucestershire People First

A Bristol charity for people with learning difficulties has shut down after police began an investigation into alleged financial irregularities.

Trustees of Bristol and South Gloucestershire People First, which had provided services and advocacy for adults with learning difficulties for 18 years, met last month and decided to close the charity on 3 April.

Two of the charity’s main commissioners, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council, said they had alerted police to issues around the charity’s management of its funds.

Avon and Somerset Police said it had launched a criminal investigation but no arrests had been made.

"We executed a search warrant at the charity in February," a police spokesman said. "Our enquiries are continuing into alleged financial irregularities at the charity after concerns were raised by Bristol council and the Charity Commission."

According to the charity’s last set of accounts filed with the Charity Commission, for the year to March 2011, it had six full-time-equivalent staff. It had an income of £281,095 and an expenditure of £248,115 during the same year, the accounts show.

Its accounts for 2011/12 and 2012/13 have not yet been filed and are 447 and 82 days late respectively.

Voscur, which supports the voluntary sector in Bristol, has been appointed interim manager of the charity by both councils while it is wound up.

Voscur said it was considering ways in which other local organisations could fill the gap in services left by the closure of the charity, which includes an "appropriate adult service" to support people who are taken into police custody.

Voscur has written to creditors of the charity to highlight "serious financial difficulties" at the organisation and invited them to attend a meeting next Wednesday.

In a joint statement, the two councils said they would not comment while police were investigating.

The Charity Commission was unable to comment on Wednesday morning.

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