With so many of the provisions of the new Charities Act poised to come into force in the first quarter of next year, it's important charities don't lose sight of other areas of new legislation that become active in the next few months.
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 goes live nationwide on 6 April 2008. It creates a new offence of corporate manslaughter in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and corporate homicide in Scotland, for which an organisation can be prosecuted if its gross failure results in death.
It applies to incorporated charities, voluntary organisations and some others. Charities are hardly notorious for being lethal, but the lead-in time before next April provides a useful space in which trustees can think again about how risks are managed.
It's important for trustees to look at the way the charity's activities are managed or organised. It's about managing risks, not being averse to them. Look at the range of your charity's activities to identify where risks are greatest and ensure you have steps in place to mitigate them. This shouldn't require anything over and above meeting the requirements of health and safety legislation but, for some, it may be a long time since a proper analysis of the risks against these requirements was undertaken. The Health and Safety Executive produces very good guidance on assessing risk at www.hse.gov.uk.
Given the daily pressures of work, reviews of areas such as health and safety can become low priority or be postponed indefinitely. If you're in this position, take the opportunity this new legislation provides to ensure your charity is up to speed and meets the requirements.
- For more information, see the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.gov.uk.
- Rosie Chapman is executive director of policy and effectiveness at the commission