The Charity Commission has now released a statement of the
results of the inquiry into Bristol Community Church Trust
(registered charity number: 1044496).
In October 2011, the Commission was notified by a congregational
member of the charity that sexual abuse allegations had been made
against the charity's youth pastor. Whilst allegations of
sexual abuse are dealt with by the appropriate authorities, rather
than the Commission, the Commission's regulatory remit extends
to ensuring that allegations were dealt with properly and that
there were proper systems in place to handle such allegations. The
Commission also seeks to ensure that any ongoing risk to
beneficiaries are managed appropriately. Accordingly the Commission
opened a statutory inquiry into the charity.
The Commission concluded that reasonable steps were not being
taken at the time the safeguarding incidents occurred by the
Charity's trustees to protect beneficiaries, which constituted
misconduct and mismanagement. There were a number of deficiencies
in the Charity's safeguarding policies, procedures and practice
which subjected the Charity's vulnerable beneficiaries to undue
The Commission acknowledged that the trustees subsequently
worked to implement improvements to its safeguarding policies and
procedure during the course of the inquiry and fully co-operated
with the Commission and the other agencies. However, the full
implementation of all the recommendations, which took until the end
of 2015 to complete, should have been delivered with greater
Each of the weaknesses in the Charity's safeguarding
policies and procedures have now been addressed appropriately by
the trustees, with full implementation of the recommendations from
Lessons for other charities
It is essential that charities engaged with children or
have adequate safeguarding policies and procedures which
reflect both the law and best practice in this area;
ensure that trustees know what their responsibilities are;
ensure that these policies are fully implemented and followed
at all times. Trustees must therefore regularly review the steps
that are taken to provide them with assurance on the fitness for
purpose of their policies and the extent of compliance in the
charity's practice with those policies.
If a charity is dealing with a safeguarding incident, as well as
reporting these to the appropriate statutory agencies, it is
important that the charity also reports it to the Commission as a
serious incident and does so as soon as possible after they become
aware of them.
As well as reporting to the Commission, you must also notify the
police, local authority and/or relevant regulator or statutory
agency responsible for dealing with these incidents. The full case
report is available here. The Commission's guidance on
safeguarding children and young people is available here and the serious incident reporting
guidance is here.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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