Last week saw the launch by the Government of a free online resource for charities – a safeguarding portal created to help charities handle safeguarding concerns or allegations.
The portal was developed by the DCMS working with a team of charity sector leaders, police and safeguarding experts, and is intended to walk charities through how to handle a safeguarding concern or allegation, with prompts to take certain actions or to contact particular people or agencies.
It also contains links to other online resources, including guidance from the Charity Commission, NCVO, Bond, the NSPCC and others.
The portal highlights key steps to be taken on being told about a safeguarding concern or allegation, including emphasising the importance of:
- taking action even if the concern is not recent or is anonymous,
- involving the relevant local council’s Children’s Social Care or Adult Social Care team as a priority, and
- taking any necessary actions to prevent immediate risk of harm, which might in some cases require suspending a person from their role in the charity.
In addition, it seeks to provide some practical advice on how best to support the person affected by the safeguarding issue, including making sure the person knows they are being listened to and feels supported, as well as warning against any promise by the charity to keep the information provided by the person affected confidential between the charity and that person.
For charities less familiar with handling safeguarding issues, in particular, the portal may well prove a useful first port of call when a concern is raised or an allegation is made.
No reporting through the portal
Charities should note that the portal is not a reporting tool.
It does not refer the safeguarding concern or allegation to the relevant local council's Children's Social Care or Adult Social Care team, or the Police, on behalf of a charity. It does not even record or save any of the information provided by the charity.
It is up to the charity using the portal to ensure that reports are made to all the appropriate authorities, including making a serious incident report to the Charity Commission as required.
Usefully, though, it is possible for the charity to print out a copy of the information included in the tool, as a record of the actions taken by the charity in response to the safeguarding concern or allegation.