According to the Charity Commission, over 50% of serious incidents reported by charities are about safeguarding issues.
In light of the recent scandals, ensuring high standards in relation to safeguarding is more important than ever.
So what must charities do?
Charities need to ensure that they have the right policies, procedures and systems in place to detect any safeguarding risks and address any issues that do arise quickly and effectively.
Here are 10 essential steps the charity should take:
- Make certain that all charity trustees understand their safeguarding duties. Trustees are required to take reasonable steps to ensure that anyone who comes into contact with the charity are not exposed to any abuse or harm. It’s important to remember that trustees are responsible for safeguarding even if they delegate tasks to others.
- Ensure all staff are aware of their safeguarding responsibilities. Safeguarding training is obligatory for individuals who work directly with children and young people and vulnerable adults.
- Make sure you have a clear and robust safeguarding policy for your charity, which is tailored to your organisation’s activity and level of risk. If you work with other partners aboard, you should also ensure they have effective safeguarding policies in place.
- If there are allegations of a violation of the safeguarding policy, make sure you take it seriously, report concerns to the appropriate regulatory body and or the Police and investigate following their guidance.
- Review your policy and strategy for preventing and dealing with safeguarding issues to ensure that it is effective and aligns to statutory guidance.
- Remind trustees that they must report serious incidents, including harm to a beneficiary or to the charity’s reputation to the Charity Commission.
- Comply with the Prevent duty; there will be certain charities who must have ‘due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. Trustees of those charities must ensure that they are aware of this duty and act in compliance with the government’s statutory guidance.
- Follow guidance from the government about the recruitment and appointment for new charity trustees. Broadly, this includes DBS checks, assessing whether there are any conflicts of interests and whether trustees have been disqualified from acting as a trustee. Remember that as of 1st August, there are changes to the law on the automatic disqualification of trustees and senior managers (CEO or CFO or equivalent) positions.
- Make sure that you undertake robust checks for your employees and volunteers before they are appointed. Depending on the nature of their role, this may include references, DBS checks or qualification checks.
- Never cover up allegations or attempt to ‘sweep them under the carpet’.
It is absolutely crucial to make sure that you are doing everything possible to ensuring safeguarding standards are high. The risks if a charity mishandles safeguarding issues are potentially very damaging. Aside from the risks of harm to the child or vulnerable adult involved and any legal proceedings arising out of the safeguarding issue, it can undermine public trust, impact on the charity’s funding and seriously damage your charity’s reputation. It would also be a serious regulatory concern to the Charity Commission.
To discuss this further, contact the Elis Whittam Charities Team who can help you.