Reports of Abuse to UK Charity Watchdog on the Rise
22 October 2018 at 3:33 pm
The UK Charity Commission says it is concerned about systemic underreporting of incidents by charities, despite receiving more than 2,000 reports of serious abuse in just seven months.
Charities submitted 2,114 reports of serious incidents to the commission’s safeguarding taskforce – established in wake of the Oxfam sexual misconduct scandal – between 20 February and 30 September this year.
This compared to 1,580 serious incidents received in the whole of 2017-18, and 1,203 received in 2016-17.
The majority of reports related to incidents or concerns about potential harm to people, including but not limited to sexual abuse or harassment.
In incidents of harm, 47.5 per cent related to a child, and 32 per cent related to an adult, with the reminder of reports not specifying an age.
Sarah Atkinson, the director of policy, planning and communications at the Charity Commission, said making a serious incident report to the regulator was not in itself an admission of wrongdoing.
“Quite the reverse: it demonstrates that a charity is responding properly to incident or concern,” Atkinson said.
“So we welcome the increase in reporting by some charities, especially international aid charities that appear to have improved their reporting since February’s revelations.”
But Atkinson said despite the increase in reporting, there was still significant and systemic underreporting of incidents by charities working in the UK and abroad.
The commission found only 0.9 per cent of charities have reported a safeguarding incident since 2014.
“Working with charities, we need to bring about a culture change on reporting to ensure charities are safe places, better able to make a difference to people’s lives,” Atkinson said.
To tackle this, the commission said it was developing a new digital tool to make it easier for charities to report, and was further reviewing its guidance on reporting to make it as clear and user friendly as possible.