The Charity Commission has seen a surge in the increase of reports of sexual harassment, bullying and abuse reported in the three months following the Oxfam sexual abuse scandal.

The total number of serious incidents reported by charities from February to May this year reached the same level as during the whole of 2016/17.

The commission said that out of the 1,150 reports received since February, 734 new cases have been opened relating to safeguarding concerns. The reports varied in severity with some relating to risks as well as actual incidents of harm identified by organisations.

A significant number of the allegations reported to the charity watchdog came from the group of 179 charities contacted by Penny Mordaunt, Britain’s international development secretary. Mordaunt sought urgent assurances that all incidents of potential abuse had been reported to the commission after revelations of misconduct involving Oxfam staff began to emerge.

The commission refused to identify the charities involved as they were still under investigation.

In February, a temporary safeguarding taskforce was set up to handle the increasing number of reports by domestic and international charities.

In response to the scandal which rocked the charity sector, the commission also launched a review of the 5,500 historic reports of serious safeguarding incidents dating back to 2014, the majority of which involve allegations of criminal behaviour.

In April, the commission announced a formal inquiry into Save the Children, the global charity hit by allegations that it failed to investigate sexual abuse and inappropriate behaviour by staff. The watchdog also began a formal inquiry into Oxfam in February, over its handling of the allegations of misconduct by staff in Haiti in 2011.

The commission said it has not yet found any cases that warrant serious or urgent concern, with the exception of one case which has now been reported to the relevant authorities.

Helen Stephenson, the commission’s chief executive said the pace of the allegations had now levelled off, although the number of reports continued to rise. She also said that as the vast majority of the 17,000 charities registered by the commission were very small, it was crucial all organisations were supported and encouraged to be accountable and transparent when dealing with abuse allegations.

>Mordaunt told the committee she was confident that, because of actions taken since February, predatory individuals had been “moved out of the sector”.

 

Jordans Solicitors represent victims who have suffered child abuse. Where a person abuses their position of trust and commits an act of assault a claim may be possible. We would encourage anyone affected to report their allegations to the police and contact Jordans to pursue a civil claim. We can be contacted free on 033 0300 1103 or you can request a call back.


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