The Charity Commission is worried about the number of charities not reporting serious incidents or taking a long time to do so. This has perhaps become a concern since the Commission raised a statutory inquiry into Oxfam in February, following allegations of misconduct by staff in Haiti.
It is a Charity’s trustee’s responsibility to ensure that serious incidents are adequately reported to the Commission as soon as possible.
What is classed as a serious incident?
The Charity Commission definition is:
“A serious incident is an adverse event, whether actual or alleged, which results in or risks significant:
- Harm to your charity’s beneficiaries, staff, volunteers or others who come into contact with your charity through its work
- Loss of your charity’s money or assets
- Damage to your charity’s property
- Harm to your charity’s work or reputation
‘Significant’ means significant in the context of your charity, taking account of its staff, operations, finance and reputation.”
Why do the commission want to know?
The Commission’s role is to ensure trustees comply with their legal duties and that the incident is managed properly by the Charity. The Commission wants to help Charities to ensure that the damage is as small as possible and that it is prevented from happening again. If the incident could impact other Charities, or could affect them in the future, the Commission may release advice to all Charities to prevent it occurring to others.
How to report an incident?
If a serious incident occurred, it should be reported via email to RSI@charitycommission.gsi.gov.uk
In the email you should include a description of what happened and what steps you are taking to manage the situation. The person making the report should confirm their relationship to the Charity, and that they have the authority of the trustees to report the incident.
There is more advice on the gov.uk website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-report-a-serious-incident-in-your-charity