Bevan Brittan is delighted to be attending the forthcoming “Inside Government “ conference on Raising Standards of Safeguarding Practice Across the Voluntary Sector on 22 November.
The Charity Commission’s drive toward improving safeguarding practice has been timely and key in establishing a shared understanding of the safeguarding challenges facing charities working in the UK and internationally. It is difficult to imagine anything more damaging to public trust and the reputation of an individual charity, than alleged or actual breaches of safeguarding practice. Recent events this past year have demonstrated that even the biggest charities with a previous exemplary record can have their viability as a credible charity threatened practically overnight.
As lawyers who specialise in safeguarding including across the voluntary sector we have worked collaboratively with the sector to develop more sophisticated safeguarding systems and management of safeguarding incidents. The sector is unique for its high use of volunteers and role and responsibilities that sit with trustees and Bevan Brittan's safeguarding team are experienced in the challenges this brings. We can also bring sound methodology to learning reviews and facilitate comprehensive incident investigation.
Our approach is to support charities to have a proactive safeguarding system based on prevent strategies rather than a reactive ethos which gives rise to increased reputational risk. Our approach mirrors the Regulator’s wish to ensure that safeguarding is at the top of the agenda for all charities. This extends to not just those working with groups traditionally considered at risk and applies equally to international and domestic charities.
Helen Stephenson CBE, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission said:
“The Commission’s actions and messages over the past few years demonstrate the top priority we expect charities to give to safeguarding, and the priority we place on ensuring trustees meet their legal duties, and public expectations, around this.”
The Charity Commission has wide powers and Section 15(2) of the Charities Act 2011 enables the Commission to give such advice or guidance with respect to the administration of charities as it considers appropriate, in connection with its general function of encouraging and facilitating the better administration of charities. ↩
The Charity Commission’s recently updated safeguarding strategy emphasises:-
- providing a safe and trusted environment which safeguards anyone who comes into contact with the charity including beneficiaries, staff and volunteers
- setting an organisational culture that prioritises safeguarding, so that it is safe for those affected to come forward and report incidents and concerns with the assurance they will be handled sensitively and properly
- having adequate safeguarding policies, procedures and measures to protect people
- providing clarity as to how incidents and allegations will be handled should they arise, including reporting to the relevant authorities, such as the Commission.
- The Commission’s guidance makes clear that:
- trustee duties include avoiding exposing the charity’s assets, beneficiaries or reputation to undue risk - this means taking reasonable steps to protect beneficiaries, employees and volunteers from harm
- on occasion, charities may be targeted by people who abuse their position and privileges to gain access to vulnerable people or their records for inappropriate or illegal purposes - trustees must be alert to this risk and the need to manage it
- 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
Specifically trustees need to:
- ensure there are mechanisms in place which provide trustees with assurance about your charity’s compliance with those policies and procedures
- ensure those safeguarding policies, practice, and performance are robustly and regularly reviewed to ensure they are up to date and fit for purpose
- actively promote a safe culture and strong awareness of everyone’s safeguarding responsibilities in your charity
- take steps to help deter and prevent safeguarding issues from occurring
- ensure there are mechanisms in place to promptly identify and act upon emerging safeguarding trends or issues
- ensure that serious incidents are reported to the Commission in accordance with its guidance and that safeguarding allegations, complaints or incidents are reported to other agencies in accordance with the law and best practice
Bevan Brittan are ideally placed to support your organisation in these objectives. The safeguarding team have extensive experience and expertise in reviewing, developing and overseeing safeguarding practice and systems to advise upon safeguarding governance, systems, legal requirements and board/trustee development.
This provides your organisation with:
- A strategic and operational plan to manage the risk
- Policies and procedures that meet legal and regulatory requirements
- Monitoring checks on trustees, staff and volunteers
- Protection for volunteers and staff
- Protection for children or adults at risk
- A positive reporting culture
- A process to identify and investigate incidents as part of a rapid response plan
- Develop reputational risk management
- Full engagement in all “Prevent” duties
- Full engagement with children and adult safeguarding boards as part of the multi agency team for safeguarding processes
- Meet statutory duties under the Children Acts 2004
- Meet statutory duties to protect adults at risk under the Care Act 2014
- Training programmes for all levels of staff to improve skills and understanding of safeguarding
If you would like to discuss your charity’s requirements and have an informal discussion as how Bevan Brittan may be able to help please contact our safeguarding team leader :-
Mobile – 07780 998184