It is therefore wise for all trustees and senior leadership to familiarise themselves with the updated guidance.
What Has Changed?
On the 17 of November 2021, the Charity Commission updated its guidance to include a new section on managing safeguarding risks when operating online. Whilst the guidance does not define what it means by 'online,' it will cover the charity's website and social media, as well as IT facilities provided whether accessed remotely or on site.
The Commission has also produced new summary guidance to support the detailed guidance referred to above.
Summary of the Change
The key updates to the Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trustees guidance are as follows:
- acknowledgment that the Commission does not have the power to implement safeguarding legislation, but if it is made aware of potential safeguarding issues, they will refer concerns to relevant safeguarding agencies
- confirmation that the safeguarding guidance applies when a charity is working online, not just in person
- charities must have in place policies and practices to manage and address the associated risks of online services, in particular by protecting people (which is anyone the charity comes into contact with, including staff and volunteers) from abuse and protecting sensitive information
- charities and trustees must be satisfied that:
- volunteers, staff and trustees know how to keep themselves safe online.
- the online services they provide are suitable for their users, safe and in line with their code of conduct
- it is clear to users how they can report online concerns
- personal data is protected and data protection rules followed
- appropriate permissions have been obtained to display images on the charity's website and social media accounts
- regarding suitability checks, the Commission refers to the Misconduct Disclosure Scheme which charities can use to obtain extra checks against overseas staff members
The Commission has also published new summary guidance titled Safeguarding for charities and trustees that provides a higher-level overview of their safeguarding. It reminds trustees that:
- all charities have a responsibility to ensure they don't cause harm to anyone who has contact with them
- charities working with children or adults at risk have extra responsibilities.
Every trustee should make sure their charity undertakes 5 key actions:
- identify and manage risks
- have suitable policies and practices in place
- carry out necessary checks
- protect volunteers and staff (includes raising concerns and whistleblowing)
- handle and report incidents appropriately
Review Your Safeguarding Practices
The guidance makes it clear that trustees should consider safeguarding risks to anyone the charity comes into contact with, online and in person. We recommend that all charities undertake a specific risk assessment of safeguarding risks associated with their online activity.
For support with ensuring your charity is up-to-date with the latest safeguarding guidance, please contact Kate Sherlock in our Charity Law team on 0117 314 5398, or complete the form below.