04 September 2012

Charity Commission guidance on reporting serious incidents


The Charity Commission has updated its guidance for reporting serious incidents so that it is easier to use and takes into account the Commission’s risk framework and new legislation. The changes do not affect the key principle of the guidance that charity trustees should inform the Commission when the charity experiences an incident such as theft, fraud or serious harm to beneficiaries.

Trustees of charities with an annual income of more than £25,000 are required, as part of the annual return, to sign a declaration that there are no serious incidents or other matters relating to the charity over the previous financial year that should have been brought to the attention of the Commission but have not been.

Serious incidents can be reported to the Commission on submission of an annual return, but as a matter of good practice the Commission considers that any serious incident that has resulted in a significant loss of funds or a significant risk to the charity’s property, work, beneficiaries or reputation should be reported immediately.

Where the Commission is satisfied that the charity trustees are managing the incident appropriately there may be no role for the Commission, but they may become involved if they have concerns about the way that the trustees have responded.

The new guidance encourages trustees to monitor changes to the safeguarding regime as the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 is phased in, provides that charity trustees should report incidents of fraud that take place to Action Fraud (the UK’s fraud and internet crime reporting centre) and refers to the duty of trustees to consider whether their charity is in receipt of tainted charity donations.

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