OSCR reminds trustees of legal duties in wake of Oxfam scandal

Board meeting

Regulator cautions charities to have watertight procedures in place 

15th February 2018 by Robert Armour 1 Comment

Scotland’s charity regulator is warning trustees of their “legal duties” in wake of the Oxfam sex abuse scandal.

New information posted on the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator’s (OSCR) website says the Oxfam situation is particularly shocking “because the individuals involved have ultimately let down the very people the charity was meant to be helping and at one of the very worst times for that country.”

They have also let down the vast majority of individuals working in humanitarian relief who do so with “great passion and integrity”, OSCR said.

“The legal duty of all charity trustees is to act in the best interests of their charity and, in particular, to act with due care and diligence,” it states.

“For all charities, this means making sure that where they are working with vulnerable children and adults, they have the appropriate policies and procedures in place to make sure that everyone is kept safe. 

“Trustees should make sure that the policies are reviewed and kept up to date as organisations grow and change.”

OSCR also issued guidance to trustees to highlight, at their next meeting, the importance of safeguarding - keeping vulnerable beneficiaries, volunteers and staff safe - and keeping records of notifiable events.

The regulator said: “It is important to develop a culture that enables anyone to report concerns, whilst making sure that those concerns are dealt with appropriately and in a sensitive manner,” while reminding trustees that they are ultimately responsible to take appropriate action when required.

England and Wales’s charity regulator is currently investigating Oxfam’s safeguarding procedures after it said the charity hadn’t disclosed the full details of an internal inquiry into sex abuse allegations by its aid staff in Haiti.

15th February 2018 by Denise Clark

Its good to remind trustees of their responsibities so that they become more involved in their charity's procedures, however more of a wake up call for OSCR to remind them they are responsible not just for regulating charity finance but the people practices of the organisation and not just say that they are not interested in complaints about board members behaviour in this area.