Thursday, 8 December 2011

Carlile Report analysis - 13

The next section of the report, paragraphs 69-74, is titled "The Charity Commission", and looks into the various enquires that have been carried out by the Charity Commission into the school. Of the first inquiry Carlile reports the following.
The findings were favourable, particularly to the effect that the charity was able to demonstrate that its child protection policies had been reviewed by the appropriate authorities and were accurate.
It's important to understand what this means. The Charity Commission has no brief to investigate safeguarding. In an exchange of correspondence I have had with the Charity Commission, they stated the following in this specific context.
Whilst the Commission will often request trustees to provide copies of child protection policies and evidence that appropriate checks (such as CRB) have been conducted where required, the Commission does not generally comment on the adequacy of these policies as this is more appropriate for other agencies, such as Ofsted.
So, in essence, the Charity Commission checks that there is a document labelled "Child Protection Policy". They don't look inside to see if it is any good, they rely on other agencies to do that for them. In the case of St Benedict's, they were relying on the ISI. All they looked for was evidence that the school had a policy and that it had passed the last ISI inspection.

So, you can't rely on the Charity Commission ensuring that the child protection policy is either well-written or effectively implemented, since they in turn rely on others to police that. That's not wrong, after all, resources are limited and there is every justification for avoiding an overlap of government functions.

The Charity Commission's second inquiry was a different matter. As Carlile states
The Commission found that, despite assurances, the Charity had failed to implement restrictions placed on the individual [Pearce] whilst on its premises. The Commission was ‘extremely critical’ in this regard. One of the terms of the individual’s continued role in the Charity was that he was to have no access to children and young people on the Charity’s premises: the trustees had failed to ensure this was the case. However, they concluded that the trustees had taken positive steps to protect the reputation of the Charity; and had confirmed publicly that an independent review would be carried out to ensure that the situation could not reoccur.
So again, this was not a general review of child protection, but rather the narrow issue of how it was that the charity failed to keep Pearce away from children despite specific assurances on that point. The "positive steps" taken were to ensure that Pearce lived away from the Abbey during the period between his arrest and his trial. No attempt was made by the Charity Commission to conduct a more general review of safeguarding, again this was left to others.

Carlile reports that the Charity Commission completed a further regulatory compliance case into the allegations against "Mr Y". Carlile states that in the opinion of the Charity Commission:
The trustees were held to have complied fully with their obligations under the Commission’s serious Incident Reporting guidance, and had also complied with the recommendations made by the ISI with regard to safeguarding policy. They were satisfied that the trustees fully understood the requirements to have or put in place all the necessary controls to mitigate the risks the Charity’s beneficiaries, assets and reputation.
So, again, the Charity Commission are depending on the ISI. But there is a slightly odd wording here "They were satisfied that the trustees fully understood the requirements..." That doesn't actually say that the Charity Commission was satisfied that the necessary controls were in place, just that the trustees understood the need for them. So has the Charity Commission checked whether the necessary controls have actually been put in place? I will try to find out.

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