Charities must report serious incidents

The Charity Commission urges charities in England and Wales to report any suspected or confirmed serious incidents.

charities must report serious incidentsSerious incidents are defined as events which risk or result in major problems. Such as significant loss to a charity’s money or assets; damage to a charity’s work, property, reputation or beneficiaries.

Examples of significant incidents include fraud, theft, large donations from unverified sources or mistreatment of vulnerable individuals supported by the charity. Other risks which should be reported include suspected links between the charity and illegal organisations, the absence of a procedure to check out prospective trustees or staff, and any suspected criminal activity involving the charity.

The number of serious incidents reported has increased significantly. However, the Commission has discovered further cases where incidents had not been reported. Consequently, the true extent of the risks charities are facing is not known.

If you suspect an incident

Any actual or suspected incidents should be reported by trustees to the Commission as soon as they are discovered. Even if the police or other regulators have already been informed.

Any charity trustees who are required to file accounts must also declare unreported serious incidents when they complete their annual return. A failure to do so is a criminal offence under the Charities Act 2011.

Michelle Russell, Head of Investigations and Enforcement at the Charity Commission, said; “We see cases where charities experience more serious problems down the line, including reputational damage, in part because trustees failed to report an incident to us in good time. So my message is: don’t compound the problem that has occurred. Help solve it by reporting it to the Commission.”

You can read HMRC guidance on how to report a serious incident here.

Tony Kelly, audit charities expert


Post by Tony Kelly, Charities Specialist Partner