Sector and regulator pledge to beef up safeguarding

At a meeting hosted by the Charity Commission and the Office for Civil Society, it was agreed there should be a meaningful response to safeguarding concerns throughout the sector

Charity Commission building
Charity Commission building

The charity sector and the Charity Commission have pledged to strengthen safeguarding measures in the wake of recent revelations about sexual misconduct at Oxfam.

The pledge came after a meeting yesterday, hosted by the Charity Commission and the Office for Civil Society, that was attended by charities, regulators and independent safeguarding experts.

The regulator said that attendees had committed to developing a meaningful response to safeguarding concerns across the domestic charity sector.

Four themes were agreed for priority action at the meeting: leadership, culture and values; law, regulation and the statutory framework; safeguarding capacity and capability; and responsibilities and reporting, accountability and transparency.

The Charity Commission’s meeting came after a similar event held on Monday and hosted by the Department for International Development.

The DfID summit discussed the possible of setting up an aid sector watchdog and confirmed that international development charities would have to abide by new standards in order to receive government funding.

DfID said that, since the Oxfam crisis emerged last month, 26 charities had reported 80 serious safeguarding incidents to the Charity Commission.

Speaking about the commission’s meeting yesterday, Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: "Keeping people safe must be the top priority for all charities, wherever they work and whatever they do. The public, rightly, expects all charities to be safe places for those who come into contact with them.

"Sadly, concerns about safeguarding in charities are not limited to international aid organisations. Charities working in the UK have their own safeguarding challenges that must be addressed."

Stephenson said she was encouraged by the commitment from charities to improve safeguarding measures.

"That commitment must be followed by firm action, and we as regulator will work with and support charities in developing practical, workable changes," she said.

Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Civil Society, said: "Safeguarding must be at the heart of every charity’s culture and a central priority for its leadership. I have been clear to the sector that they must make safeguarding a key priority.

"It is crucial that the sector addresses this issue urgently to protect vulnerable people and rebuild the public’s trust."

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