Safeguarding concerns almost doubled last year, regulator's figures show

The Charity Commission's annual report on its compliance casework shows 302 safeguarding concerns in compliance cases in the year to last March

Charity Commission building
Charity Commission building

The number of Charity Commission compliance cases featuring safeguarding concerns almost doubled last year, new figures show.

According to the regulator’s annual report of its compliance casework, Tackling Abuse and Mismanagement, safeguarding concerns appeared in 302 compliance cases in the year to the end of March 2017, compared with 163 cases in the previous year.

The report says there was a 30 per cent increase on the previous year in the number of disclosures about safeguarding concerns to other regulators, of which 244 occurred in 2016/17.

The regulator said that more than half of serious incidents reported to it in 2016/17 – 1,203 of 2,182 cases – related to safeguarding concerns.

The commission published a revised safeguarding strategy at the end of last year, which set out what steps trustees should take to safeguard staff, volunteers and beneficiaries.

Today’s report shows that the number of statutory inquiries increased from 53 to 187 in 2016/17, but these included a class inquiry involving 74 connected charities that provide services at Royal Air Force bases after two of them were defrauded by a contractor, as well as the charities involved in the commission’s double-defaulters class inquiry into organisations that fail to submit their accounts on time.

Monitoring cases rose from 424 to 503, and compliance cases fell from 1,804 to 1,664, the report says.

The number of serious incidents reported to the regulator also increased slightly from 2,117 to 2,182 in 2016/17.

Michelle Russell, director of investigations, monitoring and enforcement at the Charity Commission, said: "We know it is vital that trustees set a culture within their charity that prioritises safeguarding, so that the risk of safeguarding incidents is minimised and so that it is safe for those affected to come forward and report incidents and concerns with the assurance they will be handled sensitively and properly.

"Our wider compliance case work shows that problems in charities often result from basic failures by trustees to understand and fulfil their legal duties. In the area of safeguarding, this can include failing to recognise that your beneficiaries might be at risk or vulnerable in certain situations, or not taking proper steps to protect others who come into contact with your charity, such as staff members and volunteers."

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