The Charity Commission has issued a formal regulatory alert to urge charities working overseas to improve on the continuing weaknesses in safeguarding. The alert sets out several steps that charities should consider to better ensure they are keeping people safe.
The Commission acknowledged safeguarding improvements made by the charity sector, especially in relation to improved safeguarding policies and procedures, organisational culture, and reports and complaints mechanisms.
The Commission recommended that charities should always launch timely investigations into allegations and act quickly when incidents occur.
In addition, the alert recommended that charities consider taking the following steps:
- Join the Misconduct Disclosure Scheme (a system that aims to increase the sharing of sensitive information between organisations) to reduce the risk that individuals who pose a risk can move between agencies;
- Provide survivors and their friends and families with a safe way to report concerns;
- Design reporting mechanisms that consider the local context (such as cultural traditions and differing justice systems);
- Develop a survivor-centred approach to safeguarding; and
- Communicate the support available to survivors and how it can be accessed.
It is important that charities maintain effective oversight of the risks that their charity faces. Policies and procedures should set out effective measures to address these risks and should be regularly reviewed to ensure that those measures are effective and are actually implemented on a day-to-day basis. This process should be informed by any direction given by sector-specific regulators (including any identification of trends in the sector) and requires regular audit and review.
For more information, please see our ebriefing on the regulatory risks charities face which explains some of the practical steps charities can take to address those risks.
Many of those risks have been magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic, creating pressure on sources of funding, increasing costs, and making the direct supervision of operational employees more challenging, increasing the risk that policies and procedures are breached.