The Charity Commission has adjusted its counter-terrorism strategy to reflect the government's strategy updates, advising that the regualtor looked into 16 cases of suspected terrorist activity in charities in 2010/11.
Releasing its updated strategy on Friday (27 April), the Commission advised that it would continue to look into concerns raised about terrorism-related issues within charities and continue to investigate in these circumstances. It has also committed to maintaining the capacity to deal with cases involving terrorist activity and its reporting on their regulatory work in relation to terrorism.
A spokesperson for the Commission advised that the amended document reflects changes to 'Contest' - the government's counter-terrorism strategy - following the 'prevent review' in June 2011 which led to changes to the section on preventing terrorism, 'Prevent'.
The review found that the initial prevention policies were too intermingled with its integration policies and "failed to tackle the extremist ideology at the heart of the threat we face, and in trying to reach those at risk of radicalisation, funding sometimes even reached the very extremist organisations that Prevent should have been confronting". As a solution, a clear separation was created between Prevent, led by the Home Office, and Integration, led by Communities and Local Government.
The spokesperson advised that the Commission's strategy maintains its principles and four-strand approach of awareness, oversight and supervision, co-operation and intervention. But it has "removed the whole section on the risk and proportionality framework for the Commission's compliance work and now make reference to the Commission's new Risk Framework instead which has replaced it."
Terrorism allegations in charities
The Commission looked into 16 separate cases involving terrorist allegations in 2010/11, two of which led to statutory inquiries with resulting bank account freezes. These were at IQRA, which subsequently closed and Sivayogam, which was investigated for issues relating to funding, terrorism, political activities, conflicts of interest and trustee and governance issues, but remains a functioning charity. Both were cleared of abusing their charity's funds. A further two regulatory case reports were published on other organisations resulting in no statutory action, and nine further regulatory compliance cases relating to terrorism allegations were undertaken.
In September last year the Commission advised that it would continue to prioritise the most serious risks to the sector and its reputation which it advised would include terrorism, fraud and financial mismanagement despite the funding challenges it is facing.
Since launching its first online guide on terrorism in November 2009 the Commission has published the broader online toolkit Protecting charities from harm, which has been enhanced by further guidance on Due diligence, monitoring and verification of the end use of charitable funds, Fraud and financial crime, and Holding moving and receiving funds safely in the UK and internationally. It has also held several 'safer giving' campaigns and updated existing guidance of charities working internationally.