Safeguarding practices in charities

Safeguarding practices in charities

Following the revelation by The Times this weekend of reports of misconduct by Oxfam workers in Haiti, the points raised in the Charity Commission’s policy paper on ‘strategies for dealing with Safeguarding issues in charities’ seem all the more pertinent.

However, as Penny Mourdant, Secretary of State for International Development, summarised “it doesn’t matter if you have a whistleblowing hotline or good safeguarding practices in place, if the moral leadership at the top of the organisation isn’t there”.

Oxfam are facing criticism not only over the abuse itself but how the abuse was covered up. And now, following reports of earlier abuse in Chad, they are under criticism for their recruitment practices and allowing the alleged abusers to be on the ground in Haiti the first place.

With regards to the alleged cover-up, the Charity Commission have released a statement citing: “It is important that charities engage with the regulator frankly and openly. We must fully understand the allegations that have been made to ensure that we have confidence in the charity’s approach to safeguarding now and in the future.”

Oxfam have responded by releasing a statement stating that they will:

“strengthen our vetting, and induction of staff as well as a commitment to drive positive behaviour among all staff and improve compliance with our policies.

“make safeguarding a mandatory part of the interview process for senior leadership positions.

“ensure staff learn more about our values and code of conduct and mandatory safeguarding training within the first few weeks of employment.

“set up an external whistleblowing helpline as part of an effort to encourage more staff to come forward early with any concerns they may have.

“overcome the legal difficulties which have so far prevented us from sharing intelligence among NGOs and other organisations about people who have been found guilty of sexual misconduct.”

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