Scottish regulator receives over 300 complaints from charity staff

Written by Lauren Weymouth

Regulators have received hundreds of complaints about Scottish charities from staff within their own organisations, new figures have revealed.

According to data acquired by BBC Scotland from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), there have been 318 ‘notifiable events’ reported to the watchdog since 2016, including cases of fraud, bullying and sexual abuse.

Among the incidents, 36 were linked to safeguarding, a third (28%) of which related to the charity declaring they were involved in the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

According to the BBC, OSCR noted the system of charities reporting issues within their own organisation has been developing since 2016.

Charities are expected to report any wrongdoings to the regulator, but under-reporting has been identified as an issue as charities don’t have a legal obligation to do so.

However, since April 2016, the OSCR data shows 78 of cases have involved financial loss; 69 relate to fraud and theft; and 36 are linked to safeguarding.

In the majority of cases, no further action was required, although 27 of the reported cases were referred to the regulator's investigation unit for further examination, the BBC reported.

Last year, the UK’s Charity Commission warned too many charities are still failing to report serious safeguarding incidents, with just 0.9 per cent of charities having reported a safeguarding incident since 2014. Over the same period only 1.5% of charities submitted any kind of serious incident report.

“The public rightly expect charities to demonstrate the highest standards of ethical behaviour and attitude,” said Charity Commission director of policy, planning and communications Sarah Atkinson.

“That includes taking action when something has gone badly wrong, or when there’s been a near miss.

“Making a serious incident report to the regulator is not in itself an admission of wrongdoing or failure. Quite the reverse: it demonstrates that a charity is responding properly to incident or concern.

“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 we’re not convinced that we’re seeing everything we should be. 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.”

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