Regulator opens inquiry into charity after inspections reveal safeguarding concerns

15 Jul 2022 News

By Ivelin Radkov, Adobe

The Charity Commission has opened an inquiry into a charity after several safeguarding concerns were raised.

Devon and Cornwall Autistic Community Trust, also known as Spectrum, has charitable objects to offer support and care for people with autism.

The charity has recently been the subject of several highly critical inspections by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The CQC’s inspections of the charity’s adult care facilities found five to be inadequate and eight requiring improvement.

Inspections from earlier this year and 2021, said the charity had failed to report some safeguarding incidents and appropriately manage the risk of financial abuse, and low staff numbers and high use of agency staff who did not have the necessary training, meant people were put at risk of harm.

The regulator says trustees have failed to take sufficient action to address all of the concerns raised by the CQC, and this has raised regulatory concerns about how the trustees are managing the charity. 

Data for the financial year ending 30 September 2020, published on the Commission’s website, says its total income was more than £15m and expenditure more than £14m.

The Commission’s inquiry will investigate whether there has been misconduct and/or mismanagement in the administration and governance of the charity.

It will examine the trustees’ response and decision-making in relation to the safeguarding concerns and look at whether the trustees had complied and fulfilled their duties under charity law with particular regard to having sufficient oversight of safeguarding arrangements within the charity.

As the Commission is not a safeguarding regulator any substantive safeguarding concerns would be investigated by the appropriate regulator or police.

Spectrum: 'Many of the issues identified by the CQC have already been rectified'

Spectrum’s board of trustees said: “We are working closely with the Charity Commission and are confident they will find no misconduct and mismanagement in the administration and governance of our charity.

“Spectrum has a clear action plan, which has been created in partnership with Cornwall Council and the Care Quality Commission, and we have also enlisted the support of specialist care consultants.

“Many of the issues identified by the Care Quality Commission have already been rectified and we believe the Charity Commission will recognise the exceptional effort and progress that has been made by the board of trustees and our leadership team since the Care Quality Commission’s inspections.

“We would like to thank the people we support, their family members and staff for their on-going support of our charity.”

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