Trustees of a charity are ultimately responsible for preventing any harm to volunteers, staff or beneficiaries, according to the Charity Commission’s new safeguarding strategy.
A revised version of the strategy, published today, sets out the reasonable steps charities should take to safeguard beneficiaries, especially those charities that work with at-risk and vulnerable adults or any children aged under 18.
It says that trustees should ensure they have adequate measures and policies in place to assess and address safeguarding risks, and should know their personal responsibilities, and that all safeguarding policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and effectively implemented.
The strategy says that the commission expects trustees "to take responsibility for putting things right" if there is a safeguarding problem at the charity, even if certain aspects of this work are delegated to staff.
Trustees should also ensure their charity protects people from harm generally, including neglect, emotional and physical abuse, exploitation, radicalisation and the consequences of the misuse of data.
Due diligence is also necessary when working with any overseas organisations, the safeguarding strategy says.
The strategy has been devised after a number of safeguarding cases occurred at charities, including concerns raised by the commission earlier this year about a "lack of safeguarding practices" at 21 charities for veterans.
Michelle Russell, director of investigations, monitoring and enforcement at the Charity Commission, said: "Charities working with vulnerable groups such as children and adults at risk, for example, will need to ensure their safeguarding policies and practices comply with relevant safeguarding legislation and regulations.
"But all trustees should think about the people that come into contact with their charity and consider the steps they can take to prevent them from coming to harm.
"Recent accusations of harassment in the workplace, including against some charities, demonstrate how vital it is that trustees are alive to the need to protect and safeguard all those involved in or affected by their work."