The Commission has statutory objectives to ensure trustees comply with their legal obligations in managing charities and to increase public trust and confidence in charities. We also have a statutory function to identify and investigate abuse and mismanagement in charities.
We may need to formally investigate concerns about charities. We do so in the most serious cases. We use the Risk Framework and our published inquiry criteria at section G4 of Application of the Risk Framework to decide whether to open an inquiry.
Where appropriate, we work with other regulators, law enforcement agencies and other government departments. We ensure we raise awareness of the result of this work for the benefit of the wider sector.
We take enforcement action against charities in a number of ways. This involves regulatory action taken during investigations and our other regulatory work into individual charities. Where there has been abuse or non compliance, we may require corrective action to be taken by the trustees, including directing them to take action or certain actions. When we have opened an investigation we may use our temporary and/or permanent powers of protection. We also maintain a Register of Removed Trustees. This is a list of individuals who have been removed as a trustee by the High Court or the Commission and as a result are disqualified from acting as a trustee of a charity. In addition, we explain how we deal with charities that have failed to send us their annual accounts and returns.
Charities, like any other type of organisation, can be vulnerable to criminal and terrorist abuse. Our experience is that proven instances of terrorist involvement or association in the charitable sector are low in comparison with the size of the sector. However, any such abuse is completely unacceptable and corrodes public confidence in charities. Charities therefore need to ensure they are not at risk.
We have published our counter-terrorism strategy which explains how we raise awareness amongst all charities of how they can safeguard themselves from this risk. It also sets out what help there is for trustees to ensure they protect their own charity from terrorist and other abuse.
Protecting charities from harm is an online toolkit that aims to give trustees the knowledge and tools they need to manage risks and protect their charity from harm and abuse. This guidance arose from commitments in the Counter-terrorism Strategy. However in practice the guidance aims to assist trustees to protect their charity from a range of types of harm and abuse, and does not have a sole focus on terrorist abuse. It also includes guidance on due diligence, verifying the end use of funds and preventing fraud and the use and movement of funds.
Regulatory oversight of concerns about abuse and non-compliance in the sector is an important role expected of any modern regulator. The primary purpose is to monitor charities suspected of serious, high risk and high impact abuse. Regulatory supervision and monitoring work includes appropriate and targeted scrutiny of accounts, engagement with other regulators, ensuring actions trustees have promised to carry out have been completed and carrying out compliance visits.
We aim to work co-operatively with charity trustees to put problems right together. Sometimes, however, trustees may refuse to work with us or a charity may be at serious financial or other risk if the trustee board remains in place. In these exceptional circumstances, we may appoint a professional, independent interim manager to run the charity in place of the trustees until its problems are resolved. We explain here when and how we do this.
When different groups within a charity disagree they often ask us to take one side or the other and impose a solution. However, a charity's trustees have the responsibility for running their charity and we will not get involved in internal disputes. Where an internal dispute does arise we will expect charities to make serious attempts at a mediated settlement. We will intervene only where it is necessary to clarify the trusteeship, or where other regulatory intervention is appropriate. This section explains where we can and cannot intervene. It also provides advice for trustees on how to resolve these types of conflicts.
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