Charity Commission for Northern Ireland reports 284 concerns in first three years

Frances McCandless, chief executive of the CCNI, says they range from minor infractions to serious ones

Frances McCandless
Frances McCandless

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has received 284 concerns about charities in its first three years as a statutory regulator, with 52 of those remaining under investigation.

A document published this month by the regulator, Latest Lessons Learned from Concerns About Charities, shows that it receives an average of eight concerns a month.

The regulator said that of the 284 concerns received, 232 had been closed.

Frances McCandless, chief executive of the CCNI, said in the report that the concerns received "have ranged from minor infractions, easily put right with the correct guidance or advice, through to concerns so serious as to merit the commission using its most stringent of powers under the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008".

The report says the regulator is "continuing to conduct a number of more serious investigations, which relate to allegations of mismanagement within local charities. In investigating these cases, the commission may have to use its more stringent powers – for example, removing a charity trustee or appointing an interim manager to oversee the work of a charity."

The report says there are four ways in which a concern can be resolved: no action being taken, when there is no substance to a concern; a self-regulatory inquiry where the commission guides the charity in resolving the concern itself; a regulatory inquiry; and, the most serious, a statutory inquiry.

Included in the report are four case studies of concerns lodged with the commission about unnamed charities, how these were resolved and the lessons that can be learned from them.

The document says CCNI will launch a new interim reporting programme for its registered charities in the coming weeks.

CCNI was granted powers to investigate charities in February 2011, and began the process of registering all charities operating in Northern Ireland, in line with the registers in England and Wales, and Scotland, in December 2013.

The regulator said that between 7,000 and 12,000 organisations will need to register.

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