Serious incident reports to regulator increase by nearly a third

The Charity Commission received 2,819 in the year to the end of March last year, compared with 2,181 in the previous year

The number of serious incident reports made to the Charity Commission increased by almost a third in the 2017/18 financial year, new figures from the regulator show.

The figures show that the regulator received 2,819 reports of serious incidents in the year to the end of March 2018, compared with 2,181 in the previous financial year.

The commission said the majority of these reports were about safeguarding.

There was widespread media coverage of the Oxfam safeguarding scandal from February last year, after Oxfam employees in Haiti in 2011 were accused of sexual misconduct.

The commission has repeatedly said there was a spike in the reporting of safeguarding incidents in the months after the Oxfam story, with 2,114 serious incident reports relating to safeguarding submitted between 20 February and 30 September 2018.

But the regulator said it was concerned that only 1.5 per cent of charities had submitted a serious incident report since 2014.

The commission revealed today that it had written to 1,700 charities that either work with children or adults at risk, or which do not have a safeguarding policy, to ensure that all serious incidents are reported to the regulator.

The figures from the commission include several previously released in its annual report, which was published in July last year.

That report said the number of regulatory compliance cases opened by the commission had almost doubled to 2,269 in 2017/18.

It added that the number of reports from auditors and independent examiners had increased almost fivefold, from 54 to 287, in 2017/18 amid a drive to increase the number of reports from financial experts.

Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: "While we are dealing with more regulatory compliance cases and more reports of serious incidents than ever before as the number of charities on the register continues to grow, it is important to recognise the hard work and dedication of the overwhelming majority of trustees.

"Nevertheless, where things do go wrong, the potential impact of such cases on public trust and confidence when they do come to light also demonstrates how precious and fragile the good standing of charity can be.

"That is why we are working on becoming more preventive in our approach, developing the risk-based element to its work so that it can spot potential problems before they occur."

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