As trustees you’re expected to make safeguarding a key governance priority. You must make sure that trustees are regularly made aware of how safeguarding is being managed in the organisation. You could have a regular safeguarding report that is presented to the board. This could be produced by the designated safeguarding lead with oversight of the lead trustee for safeguarding.
The regularity, length and level of detail of the report will depend on the level of safeguarding risk of your organisation. You can expect to receive information including:
- number of concerns raised (overall, or by area, region, subsidiary, service, team)
- number of referrals made to statutory services
- percentage of referrals made against those accepted by local authorities
- nature of concerns raised (categories of abuse)
- number of allegations against staff and volunteers
- number and progress of investigations of staff and volunteers
- names of designated safeguarding lead and deputies
- training record of staff and volunteers at all levels
- safer recruitment updates relating to staff and volunteers.
Even if your safeguarding risks are low and you only have occasional incidents to report you will need agenda time to discuss:
- recommendations made following investigations (within your own organisation or other cases from the news or local partnerships)
- implications for the organisation and its aims, strategic plans of those recommendations
- plans for updates to any relevant policies
- less formal comments – such as feedback from any visits or walkabouts by trustees or safeguarding leads
- impact of any new legislation or guidance on your organisation.
At least once a year you will want to review whether there are any emerging trends or patterns and what actions you need to take. For smaller organisations, who have few or no incidents that you have regarded as safeguarding incidents, you should review your general complaints thoroughly to see if any of them point at potential safeguarding issues.
As trustees, you must make sure the reports you receive provide the information you need and demonstrate evidence of impact and improvements. It is your responsibility to make sure the work the organisation is doing is helping to keep people safe.
Consider what questions you can ask to help you challenge reports.
- What obstacles have teams discovered as they try to improve safeguarding in practice?
- What is being done in order to overcome them?
- Can we have examples of the improvements made?
- How do we involve and work with local partners?
- How has working with local partners affected what we do internally?
- In what ways can we see improved outcomes for the people we come into contact with from our safeguarding work?
- What is being done to ensure improvements are sustainable?
- What is the organisation doing to ensure all staff and volunteers are confident and comfortable to talk about safeguarding concerns?
- How often do we carry out audits or compliance checks and what standards do we use?
- Can we explain why we get the level of concerns raised that we do by looking at the activities we offer and who takes part?
- Is our training matched properly to the issues we need to deal with most often?
- If we have had to deal with any allegations, have we done it properly, fully and made changes?
- Do we have evidence that we are recruiting staff and volunteers more safely and incorporating our values and behaviours in the selection process?
Voluntary organisations should prepare an annual report which details their activities and impact. If you are a registered charity this annual report and accounts must be submitted to the Charity Commission and meet certain requirements. If a charity’s income is over £500,000, it must include a risk management statement.
It is good practice for any organisation to include information about its approach to safeguarding. This information informs the public, donors, partners and regulators of your action in the year. This can help to build public trust in your charity and is a demonstration of your commitment to a safer culture. You should think about the people reading the report and make sure they can see a clear line between how you approach safeguarding and the vision, mission and values of your organisation.
How much information and detail you include will depend on the type of activities and risks which your organisation is managing. You should show how you have considered these risks and taken decisions proportionate to the size of your organisation. You may delegate staff to write the report but all trustees must be familiar with it and confident that it is accurate.
There are a number of things that can be included.
- Whether your organisation has a safeguarding policy and procedure and whether they were reviewed within the year.
- What measures you have to meet legal or regulatory requirements. For example, you state your commitment to follow the DBS code of practice.
- Whether you have a designated safeguarding lead and a lead trustee for safeguarding.
- What you have done to build a safer culture that year. For example, you give the number of people who have attended safeguarding training, any evaluation results of the training or any findings from annual staff or volunteer surveys.
- Whether you have taken part in multi-agency forums or efforts to share practice in safeguarding.
- What governance arrangements you use to make sure trustees know how effective safeguarding is in your organisation. For example, training for trustees or, how often safeguarding was discussed in trustee meetings or reports received.
- A summary of safeguarding concerns. This could include information on the total number of concerns, the forms of harm identified, the proportion of concerns within the organisations direct activity or which it identified within the community and the number of referrals passed to safeguarding authorities. This summary will need to explain the definitions used, be clear that a concern does not indicate evidence of harm and comment on how the concerns relate to the scale of your organisation's activity. Any public statement must ensure that there is not potential to identify any individual affected by a concern.
- Lessons learned from the safeguarding concerns managed and any plans to further strengthen safeguarding in the year ahead.
- A statement of how anyone connected to the charity can raise a concern.
Depending on your size you may have additional safeguarding requirements:
- Registered charities with income over £1 million must, by law, include extra information about fundraising in their trustees’ annual report. This statement must include details of its approach to fundraising and measures taken to protect the public, including vulnerable people, from unreasonably intrusive or persistent fundraising approaches, and undue pressure to donate.
- Incorporated organisations (such as a charitable company or a charitable incorporated organisation) with a turnover of more than £36m and doing business – which includes a trade or profession – in the UK must, by law, make an annual modern slavery statement. This statement must include the steps the organisation has taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any of its supply chains and in any part of its own organisation (or, that no steps have been taken).