Commission reveals surge in reporting of safeguarding incidents after Oxfam scandal broke

The regulator says that in less than four months it received 1,152 such reports, compared with 1,210 in the whole of 2016/17

The Charity Commission received almost as many reports of serious safeguarding incidents in less than four months after the Oxfam scandal emerged as it did in the whole of 2016/17.

The regulator said it had received 1,152 reports of serious incidents about safeguarding from when it established its safeguarding taskforce in mid-February to the end of May.

In comparison, there were 1,210 reports in the whole of 2016/17.

The commission said that in April and May this year the number of serious safeguarding incidents reported to the regulator was 620, more than triple the 196 it received in the same period last year.

The commission said it had opened a total of 734 new cases relating to safeguarding concerns since the Oxfam sexual misconduct scandal broke.

Oxfam was severely criticised after allegations emerged in February of sexual misconduct by aid workers towards beneficiaries in Haiti in 2011.

Save the Children was also the subject of sexual misconduct allegations against two former senior staff members – the former chief executive Justin Forsyth and the former policy director Brendan Cox, both of whom left the charity in 2015.

Both charities are the subject of ongoing Charity Commission statutory inquiries.

The Department for International Development has written to 179 international aid charities that receive government funding asking for all safeguarding incidents to be reported to the commission.

The regulator has confirmed that 34 of those 179 charities have since reported a total of 298 incidents, 218 of which are historical.

The Charity Commission’s safeguarding taskforce is also evaluating 5,501 incidents it received between 1 April 2014 and 20 February 2018: it has completed its analysis in 95 per cent of the cases.

Of those incidents, 3,000 related to potential criminal behaviour, all of which were reported to the relevant authorities.

David Holdsworth, deputy chief executive of the Charity Commission, said that despite the increase in reports to the commission there were still concerns that safeguarding incidents were under-reported.

"Despite the increase, still only 1.5 per cent of charities have reported a serious safeguarding incident to us since 2014," he said.

"We urge trustees to read and follow our guidance on reporting serious incidents."

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