OSCR proposes requiring Scottish charities to report suspected links to terrorist groups

The regulator's consultation document outlines plans to introduce a system for reporting serious incidents similar to that in England and Wales

Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator
Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator

Scottish charities would be required to report if they had any known or alleged links to terrorist groups and banned organisations under proposals outlined in the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator consultation document published today.

The Scottish regulator has proposed introducing a system for reporting serious incidents similar to the one used in England and Wales as part of its Targeted Regulation of Scottish Charities consultation into how it should operate in the future.

The regulator is proposing that Scottish charities would need to inform it of nine key areas of concern, including any known or alleged links to banned organisations and terrorist groups, cases of theft and fraud, and suspicions or incidents of abuse of beneficiaries.

Charities would also be expected to declare in their annual returns that all serious incidents had been reported to the regulator.

The regulator is also proposing a number of changes to its filing requirements, including making all charities complete their filing requirements online and no longer sending our paper forms. The OSCR introduced online filing just over two years ago and now almost 70 per cent of Scottish charities complete their forms this way.

It says that support will be available for charities that will struggle to complete their forms online. "We understand there may be difficulties and anxieties with online filing for some," the consultation document says. "However, support is available throughout the country and we will be actively working to ensure that the level of service in this area increases."

It also plans to reduce the reporting requirements for cross-border charities registered with both the OSCR and the Charity Commission in England and Wales "in order to identify simply where there are charitable activities taking place in Scotland", the document says.

The consultation is also seeking views on the proposal announced in its annual report last month to publish the annual accounts of all Scottish charities on its website. Unlike the Charity Commission, the OSCR does not make accounts submitted to it available online, but individual charities are legally obliged to provide their latest accounts to the public on request.

David Robb, chief executive of the OSCR, says: "Our proposals for proportionate, targeted regulation are the result of considerable discussion with charities and other interested parties. Now we want to involve everyone in the conversation and the planning, so that we can ensure that we focus our resources where they are needed. Essentially, these measures will ensure that we focus on the right charities in the right way, at the right time and reinforce the public's confidence in the sector."

The consultation opens today and will run for 12 weeks. It will feature a series of discussion events across Scotland.

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