11 Dec 2017

The Charity Commission has published its new safeguarding strategy affirming safeguarding as a key governance priority for all charities, not just those working with groups traditionally considered at risk.

The Charity Commission has published its new safeguarding strategy affirming safeguarding as a key governance priority for all charities, not just those working with groups traditionally considered at risk.

The new four-strand strategy provides welcome guidance for the sector, setting out the Commission's approach to safeguarding and explaining what trustees' charity law duties mean in this context. The strategy:

  • emphasises trustee awareness and prevention
  • explains the Commission's supervisory and monitoring role
  • describes how it co-operates with other agencies
  • explains when and how it intervenes, including the purpose and scope of its regulatory engagement

Safeguarding is one of the three areas of risk facing charities that the Commission prioritises in its work, alongside fraud and financial abuse and mismanagement and the extremist and terrorist abuse of charities.

The strategy makes it clear that trustees always remain responsible for safeguarding, even if some aspects of it are delegated to staff. What trustees do in practice will depend on the context of their charity's work, but they should take steps to ensure that their charity provides a safe environment for staff, volunteers, and anyone who comes into contact with it, as well as safeguarding children and adults at risk. Charities that work with vulnerable groups such as children and adults at risk will need to ensure their safeguarding policies and practices comply with relevant legislation and regulations.

The strategy also reminds trustees that safeguarding goes beyond preventing physical abuse, and includes protecting people from harm generally, including neglect, emotional abuse, exploitation, radicalisation, and the consequences of the misuse of personal data.

Where a charity funds other organisations, such as overseas partners, that work with children or adults at risk, its trustees should carry out appropriate due diligence so that they can be confident that their partner has in place appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures.

All trustees should think about the people that come into contact with their charity and consider the steps they can take to prevent them from coming to harm. Here are some questions for your trustee board:

  • Do you have adequate measures in place to assess and address safeguarding risks?
  • Do you have adequate safeguarding policies and procedures appropriate for your charity's particular circumstances and which reflect both the law and best practice
  • Do you make sure that these policies and procedures are effectively implemented and regularly reviewed

These steps are vital, given that charities are accountable to the public and must operate for the public benefit!

WCVA promotes good practice in safeguarding within the third sector in Wales. Our safeguarding service steering group brings together experts from across the sector and we facilitate the Safeguarding Ambassador's Network to enable safeguarding leads from County Voluntary Councils to meet, update us on activities in their areas and learn from each other.

WCVA can offer information, advice and resources on safeguarding for third sector organisations in Wales. If you have any enquiries please get in touch with our Safeguarding Officer, Suzanne on 0800 2888 329 or email safeguarding@wcva.org.uk

Download the Charity Commission's Safeguarding Strategy