The Charity Commission has provided an update on the work of the interim safeguarding task force, who report an increase in reports of serious safeguarding incidents by charities.
When reports of sexual exploitation and abuse at Oxfam were published in February 2018 the Charity Commission launched an interim safeguarding taskforce to manage the increase in reports and undertake a review of historic safeguarding.
Prior to the Oxfam scandal, the Charity Commission had already highlighted safeguarding as a key governance priority for all charities.
Having previously reported concerns about charities under-reporting serious incidents, the taskforce called for charities to report incidents sooner rather than later. They also started work on a review of over 5000 reports received between 2014 and 2018 to identify any gaps (of which 95% have now been analysed, according to a recent update).
It is now clear that the message from the regulator to report all incidents swiftly has been heard by the sector. An update from the Charity Commission has revealed that they have received 1,152 reports of serious safeguarding incidents between February 2018 and May 2018 compared to 1,210 during the whole of 2016 and 1,580 during the whole of 2017.
So, what can you do to ensure your organisation is acting responsibly, has strong safeguarding in place and minimises the risk of a serious incident taking place?
The Charity Commission has published a strategy for dealing with safeguarding in charities. Their aim is to “make sure that charities that work with or provide services to vulnerable beneficiaries comply with their legal duties, and take reasonable steps to protect them from harm and minimise the risk of abuse.”
In addition to reading the strategy and related documents, CaSE Insurance have written a Support Centre article on safeguarding in charities. In it, we describe some basic care and risk management standards that your organisation should adhere to manage this risk and protect your service users. These include:
- Create, maintain and adhere to written policies and procedures in accordance with the appropriate National Minimum Standard of care for any service users in your care
- Ensure all staff and volunteers:
- Have DBS checks at least every three years
- Have training on protection / safeguarding policies
- Have a formal induction and appropriate supervision
- Have refresher training at least every three years
- Securely retain records relating to employment applications, references, DBS checks, policies and procedures, accident and incident registers and referral, assessment, treatment and care plans for service users.
Read more in our safeguarding in charities article.