OSCR, Scotland’s charities regulator issues new guidance on the safeguarding of beneficiaries, volunteers and staff
Following the recent allegations of abuse surrounding international charity work, the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has issued guidance on two key points – Safeguarding and Notifiable Events – urging charity trustees to ensure these are at top of the agenda. The guidance lists a number of helpful action points for charity trustees should take.
The Guidance – what your Charity should do.
The guidance highlights the legal duty of charity trustees to act in the best interests of their charity and to take appropriate action when necessary. This includes a need to ensure their charity has the appropriate safeguarding policies, procedures and practices in place in order to keep beneficiaries, volunteers and staff safe. The guidance sets out a number of action points in respect of safeguarding, including:
- asses your charity’s safeguarding risks and ensure that the appropriate policies and procedures are put in place;
- ensure safeguarding policies are regularly reviewed and updated and are applied in practice in the most effective way;
- develop a safe environment and encourage a culture where beneficiaries, volunteers and staff can report concerns in the confidence that those concerns will be addressed in an appropriate and sensitive manner;
- be decisive and transparent when action is required and learn from incidents when they occur;
- ensure that serious incidents are reported to OSCR and any other relevant bodies.
Notifiable Events – OSCR Reporting Mechanism
OSCR has a Notifiable Events system which can be used by trustees to help them address problems robustly and transparently. Although there is no legal requirement for charities to report a Notifiable Event, the system allows OSCR to provide further guidance to charities when serious incidents occur.
The guidance provides examples of what may constitute a Notifiable Event, for example:
- fraud and theft;
- incidents of abuse or mistreatment of vulnerable beneficiaries;
- charity trustees acting improperly or whilst disqualified;
- suspicions of criminal activity or where the charity has been subject to a criminal or regulatory investigation.
In previous guidance, OSCR has provided that whilst not every event should be reported, those that “threaten to have a significant impact on the charity” should be. The regulator urges trustees not to be anxious about using the Notifiable Events system and encourages them to take the positive step to work together with OSCR to “try to ensure trust and confidence in the charity going forwards”.
The new guidance serves as a reminder that safeguarding should be at the forefront of the minds of charity trustees at all times.
OSCR will be publishing new guidance on the topic later this year and are calling for suggestions of issues to be considered within that guidance to be sent to email@example.com.
This article was co-written by Rhea McKenzie (firstname.lastname@example.org).