The Charity Commission has today published a document for trustees that describes its role and approach when dealing with issues relating to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults.
In its document Strategy for Dealing with Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Issues in Charities, the Commission informs trustees of their responsibilities and legal duties and provides them with steps to take to protect children and vulnerable adults. It explains what they should do to prevent problems arising and how they should respond to allegations and incidents of abuse when they do happen.
The regulator is also keen to emphasise what it doesn’t do – namely that it is not responsible for administering legislation or dealing with actual specific incidents of abuse.
A four-strand strategic approach
The document outlines a four-strand approach which emphasises prevention, establishes when the Commission will become involved, outlines the purpose and scope of its engagement and explains how it deals with confidential and sensitive information.
The four strands are:
- Awareness and Prevention: Preventing problems arising in the first place by providing web guidance to trustees, disseminating wider lessons and signposting to other sources of specialist information.
- Oversight and Supervision: Monitoring reported abuse and safeguarding failings, including through serious incident reporting and ensuring compliance by charities with the Commission’s regulatory advice and directions where action is necessary.
- Co-operation: Strengthening the Commission's liaison with other agencies to better disrupt the activities of those who seek to exploit charities to abuse children and vulnerable adults.
- Intervention: Undertaking investigations in the most serious cases in order to protect the charity and its beneficiaries, using the Commission’s regulatory powers where necessary and proportionate to do so.
Sam Younger, CEO of the Charity Commission (pictured), insisted that trustees of charities which work with children and vulnerable adults have a duty of care to their charity, and that it is crucial that they develop and implement systems to safeguard children and vulnerable adults, which need to be monitored on a regular basis.
“Any abuse of children and vulnerable adults is a criminal offence and therefore a matter for the police,” said Younger. “But when it happens in a charity, such abuse also risks undermining public trust and confidence in all charities.
“We will intervene in serious cases or where there has been non compliance or abuse. We urge trustees to familiarise themselves with this safeguarding strategy.”
Simon Massey, head of safeguarding information provider Safe Network, added: “It’s vital for trustees of charities to ensure that they take the necessary steps to protect their service users from any form of abuse, and that if there are concerns they are reported to the relevant organisations to follow up.
“The Safe Network can provide additional advice and guidance in relation to safeguarding children and young people – this includes policy and procedural templates and a self-assessment safeguarding standards resource.”
The full report is available on the Charity Commission’s website.