Child safeguarding reports at Save the Children International rose by more than half in 2019, accounts show

Dozens of staff were dismissed from Save the Children International in 2019 as reported child safeguarding incidents rose by more than half, according to the charity's latest accounts.

The number of incidents increased by more than 200 year on year to 589, up from 369 in 2018, the accounts for the year to 31 December 2019 show.

The accounts, which were filed with Companies House last week, show the proportion of concerns raised against volunteers increased from 18 per cent in 2018 to 27 per cent in 2019.

A quarter (26 per cent) of concerns related to full-time members of staff, down from 37 per cent in 2018.

Fifty-eight cases are still being investigated, and 531 have been closed.

Of the resolved cases, 290 involved the organisation’s staff and volunteers, and 83 involved its partners. However, 158 cases did not involve Save the Children International staff or volunteers.

Of the incidents that involved the charity’s staff, volunteers or partners, 143 allegations were substantiated, according to the accounts.

This led to 25 dismissals, 30 contract terminations, and 44 official warnings. Staff members in three cases resigned immediately.

Local authorities were made aware of 27 incidents.

Cases of sexual exploitation and abuse fell from 23 per cent in 2018 to 14 per cent in 2019, according to the charity.

In addition, adult safeguarding incidents fell by more than 30 to 72, down from 103 in 2018.

Of 58 internal cases, 39 were substantiated, and 25 employees were dismissed.

In his foreword to the 2019 accounts, Robert Good, interim chair of the charity’s board of trustees, said: “In 2019, we expanded the scope of safeguarding from children to include adults and those in the communities in which we work, responding to recent events that have highlighted weaknesses in the humanitarian sector.”

The figures come as Save the Children UK resumed bidding for government funding last month after it withdrew from the process two years ago over a sexual misconduct scandal.

Income at Save the Children International fell by six per cent to $1.169bn compared with $1.2bn in the previous year, and expenditure fell a similar amount to $1.173bn. This was down from a high of $1.3bn in 2017.

The charity also reported a rise in the number of fraud incidents by nearly a fifth in 2019 to more than 600, including a 50 per cent rise in the number of level one incidents.

Level one is the highest category of risk that can involve losses above $20,000, and suspicions of armed group involvement.

The Charity Commission warned last week that fraudsters have swindled hundreds of charities out of funds totalling millions of pounds since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March.

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