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About safeguarding reports

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What to expect from a report to the trustees

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.

When considering a quarterly safeguarding report, trustees from Activities Everywhere – a large charity with many branches – questioned why there had been a larger number of safeguarding concerns reported by a manager in one area of its service. There were no obvious elements of the activities that made a different risk level more likely. The manager had authority to raise concerns directly with Social Services and over 50% of their concerns were being rejected as not meeting their safeguarding threshold test. The board  asked the designated safeguarding lead to investigate. They quickly realised there was a new manager in place and that manager readily explained that they were nervous about making judgements and worked on the basis of referring everything that was flagged up by staff and volunteers. They were given additional training and support and the next quarterly data showed a reduction in concerns and an increase in acceptances by Social Services.

How to challenge reports

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? 

Including safeguarding in your annual report

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.
CountySports is a small organisation which provides a range of sporting activities for disadvantaged people in its area. It’s trustees included a statement on safeguarding in its annual report:

As part of CountySports of accessible sporting opportunity for all, we seek to ensure our sporting activities are safe and those at risk of harm are protected. We have a strong commitment to protecting and promoting the health, wellbeing and safety of all engaged in our work. The Deputy CEO acts as designated safeguarding lead and Jeff Smith is our lead trustee for safeguarding. We have a Safeguarding Policy and Procedure which is reviewed each year.

In the year under review we:
  • Updated our safeguarding policy in line with changes to local safeguarding children arrangements.
  • All trustees were informed of new Charity Commission guidance and considered quarterly updates from staff on our safeguarding arrangements.
  • All new staff and volunteers participated in a three hour safeguarding briefing. Those with direct contact with children also participated in further training relevant to their role.
  • Our Service Delivery manager was a member of the Safer Country Partnership – a voluntary sector forum for practice sharing on safeguarding.
  • We had no significant safeguarding concerns or near misses related to our activity which required reporting to regulators. Our team identified three children where there were concerns for their safety and these were passed to relevant authorities.
  • In the year ahead we will be expanding our provision for disabled volunteers. We will roll out new safeguarding for adults at risk training for relevant volunteers.



Page last edited Oct 07, 2019

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