A new safeguarding strategy published by the Charity Commission last week makes it clear that all charities, and not just those working with children or adults at risk, must consider safeguarding a “key governance priority”.
What’s more, it says that trustees should aim to provide a safe environment not only for beneficiaries, but also employees, volunteers and anyone else who comes into contact with their charity.
The strategy states that it aims to:
- emphasise trustee awareness and prevention
- explain the Commission’s supervisory and monitoring role
- describe how the Commission works with other agencies and
- set out when and how the Commission will intervene.
It sets out the Commission’s approach to safeguarding issues, and explains how charity trustees’ duties apply to safeguarding. What trustees must do to comply with their duties in this area, of course, will vary depending on the activities of the charity, but Annex 1 of the strategy sets out the basic principles that apply in some detail, and is well worth a read.
The strategy also emphasises that charity trustees always retain responsibility for safeguarding and prevention is primarily the responsibility of the charity trustees, even if they delegate some safeguarding tasks to others within the charity.
When considering what needs to be done to ensure compliance with their duties, trustees should remember that safeguarding encompasses more than just physical abuse, including:
- Emotional abuse
- Radicalisation, and
- The consequences of misuse of personal data.
Trustees should also be aware that in some circumstances they will have to carry out appropriate due diligence on other organisations. In particular, the strategy highlights that where a charity works with a partner organisation overseas that works with children or adults at risk, the strategy states that the trustees of the charity must ensure that the partner organisation has appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures.
The strategy also makes clear that trustees are expected to make serious incident reports to the Commission, in good time, where safeguarding issues arise.
Safeguarding is one of the three areas of risk that the Commission prioritises in its work (along with fraud and financial abuse and mismanagement, and the extremist and terrorist abuse of charities). This strategy provides welcome guidance as to the Commission’s approach in this important area.