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120 charities investigated over treatment of vulnerable beneficiaries in the last three years

The number of Charity Commission investigations into charities where issues concerned vulnerable beneficiaries was revealed after MP Fiona Mactaggart raised the question in Parliament.

Some 120 charities had been subject to investigation by the Charity Commission under these circumstances, almost half of which were investigated in 2010/11.  That year saw 57 charities investigated while the previous year saw 25 and 2008/09 saw 38 investigations. 

Just ten of these investigations in total were within the Commission's most serious category of 'statutory investigation', which allows the regulator to require information and documentation from charities and individuals and to act to protect the charity.

Mactaggart posed the question of how many registered charities the Charity Commission had investigated, or had been subject to regulatory inquiry for allegations of child sexual abuse in the last three years, in the House of Commons' written questions. 

Responding on Wednesday (12 September), Nick Allaway, head of business services at the Commission advised it is "not possible to specifically break this down" and so the figures revealed relate to all vulnerable beneficiaries, which includes "vulnerable adults and the elderly as well as children, and can relate to other forms of abuse or complaints as well as sexual abuse".

"The Charity Commission is not responsible for safeguarding matters or dealing with incidents of actual abuse and we do not administer the legislation on safeguarding children and vulnerable adults," he continued. "All suspected criminal activity is passed to the police".

The Charity Commission's Back on Track annual report lists information about such investigations and in its 2010/11 report advised that: "Several cases involved actual, suspected or alleged abuse of beneficiaries, but we also saw a number of cases where we had serious concerns about charities that did not have effective safeguarding policies or practices in place."

It also advised that while there were 57 investigations, a further 152 cases relating to safeguarding vulnerable beneficiaries were dealt with by the Commission's assessment unit, which decides upon appropriate further action. There were 217 reports of serious incidents on the matter recorded in 2010/11, out of 849 reports of serious incidents in general (26 per cent).

This article was taken from www.civilsociety.co.uk – http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/governance/news/content/13377/