Opinion

'Safeguarding the safeguarders' seminar

15th August 2017

'Safeguarding the safeguarders' seminar

It is crucial that charities fully understand their obligations, especially in light of the Charity Commission’s report following an inquiry into The Grail Trust.

The allegations related to a children’s home operated by an Indian registered charity (The Grail Trust India) and not by the Grail Trust itself, although The Grail Trust provided financial support and advice to The Grail Trust India. In summary, the Trustees of The Grail Trust had failed to check that The Grail Trust India had proper safeguarding systems in place before working with it.

The Commission recognised in its inquiry report that it has no direct regulatory remit over overseas partners or not-for-profit organisations that are not registered in England and Wales. However, the Commission stated that its remit is to hold a charity registered in England and Wales to account over its relationship with an overseas partner and its management of that relationship.

The inquiry concluded that there were serious governance failings due to a lack of effective oversight of safeguarding matters and a failure to report an allegation of child abuse to the police or to the Commission as a serious incident. It also found that the trustees were responsible for misconduct and mismanagement.

The report highlights that charities will be held accountable for any safeguarding-related matters which arise and that they should be reported as serious incidents to the Commission and the police, where appropriate.

The report is noteworthy in stating that the Commission will take action even when the party involved is an overseas organisation, if the charity registered in England and Wales is working in partnership with it and fails to properly manage that relationship and carry out appropriate checks.

We recommend that any charities registered in England and Wales that have close working relationships with partners overseas, should conduct a review of their own safeguarding checks to ensure they are vigilant.

Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement at the Commission, stated: “Trustees have a duty to act in the best interest of the charity and this includes having adequate safeguarding policies in place and fully implementing them.”

She added that, when working with partners, whether in the UK or overseas and that work involves children, “it is important that the charity ensures the partner is not just capable of delivering that work, but has proper safeguarding measures in place”.

The Commission has issued guidance for trustees on safeguarding issues which can be viewed using the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safeguarding-children-and-young-people/safeguarding-children-and-young-people

This is a critical issue for all trustees and one which and the Commission (and other regulators) are focussing time and resource on, meaning that trustees need to understand their duties and responsibilities.

If you would like to learn more and wish to attend our seminar, please contact Lydia Howell by emailing lydia.howell@higgsandsons.co.uk

 

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