The Charity Commission's Annual Report for 2019-2020 records that there were 5,730 serious incident reports made to the regulator, an increase of almost 50% from the previous year. Nearly 60% of these reports related to safeguarding.
The rise in the number of serious incidents reported follows a trend set in previous years. The Commission credits the new online form for reporting serious incidents, which was introduced on 14 June 2019, with strengthening their approach to reports. In 90% of reports, the information collected by the online form is sufficient for the Commission to decide whether further regulatory action was required. Before the form was introduced, reporting could be done via email and reportedly only provided enough information 30% of the time.
The Annual Report covers information up to 31 March 2020 and so the statistics captured will have only caught the beginning of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In June the Commission released updated information on reporting serious incidents during the pandemic to cover the unprecedented scenarios and challenges that could not have been envisaged when the main guidance was published.
The Annual Report also records an increase in the number of whistle blowing reports by 33% to 247 in the past year and says that the Commission made it a priority to improve how they communicate with whistle blowers. The definition of a whistle blower has also been widened to include all those involved in a charity including volunteers and trustees, rather than just staff members.