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Handling safeguarding allegations in a charity

Things to begin with

  • 1 Current: Things to begin with
  • 2 Making a referral
  • 3 Further action
  • 4 Next steps for your charity
  • 5 Record of actions you have taken

If this your first time using the tool, see How to use this tool to help you use it effectively.

The information you enter in this tool is not saved on our servers. If you need to close this page at any point, select Record of actions you have taken on the progress bar on the left of the page and follow the instructions to print your progress.

This tool is for charities in England to handle a safeguarding allegation or concern about a person in the charity. A person in the charity includes employees, volunteers or any other third party working with the charity. 

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child or adult at risk, please follow the links in the further support and guidance section of the home page.

This guide is not legal advice. If you need legal assistance, you should speak with a legal advisor.

When you've been told something:

  • Action must be taken no matter if the information you received is about a concern that is non-recent or from an anonymous source.
  • Open and ongoing dialogue with your local council's Children's Social Care or Adult Social Care team should be a priority. They can advise and guide you throughout. Please contact them as you should take action promptly.
  • Always make sure the person speaking up feels they’re being listened to and supported. 
  • Don’t promise to keep information confidential between you and them. Refer to and follow your charity's policy and procedures to make sure information is only shared with people who need and have the right to know.
  • If there is an immediate risk of harm then action should be taken to put safeguarding measures in place, for example the suspension of the individual that this concerns. Those with responsibility for human resources in your organisation should be involved in this decision, where available.

Your charity should have safeguarding policies and procedures

Find out more about safeguarding roles and responsibilities

Guidance for organisations delivering statutory services that work with children

Statutory guidance for organisations working with adults at risk

Get legal advice for your charity

Type of Safeguarding
What type of safeguarding harm or abuse is this concern about?

This answer won't impact on how you use the tool but it is useful to record the type of harm and abuse if you know it.

The information you enter in this tool is not saved on our servers. If you need to close this page at any point, select Record of actions you have taken on the progress bar and follow the instructions to print your progress.

Risks to be aware of

Charity Commission

Spoken to relevant people
Have you spoken to the relevant people in your charity about any concerns?

When you’ve been told something is wrong, don’t inform the alleged perpetrator(s) at this stage. Instead, tell the person in your charity with responsibility for safeguarding. They can help decide on the next steps and will likely be able to manage the allegation hereafter. If you are unsure who this is, or if your charity does not have a person with responsibility for safeguarding, you should speak to your manager.

If the alleged perpetrator(s) is the person in your charity with responsibility, you should not inform them and should instead speak to senior management or your trustees.

If you do not feel comfortable speaking to someone in your charity, you should seek advice from your local council's Children's Social Care or Adult Social Care team. This is covered in the next step of this tool, Making a referral.

This guidance explains safeguarding roles and responsibilities in charities:

Roles and responsibilities

It's great you've started a conversation with the person in your charity with responsibility for safeguarding. If you need to find out more about roles and responsibilities within charities this guide can help. Understanding roles and responsibilities
When you’ve been told something is wrong, don’t go straight to the person that’s been reported. Instead, tell the person in your charity with responsibility for safeguarding. They can help decide on the next steps. If you are unsure who this is, or if your charity does not have a person with responsibility for safeguarding, this guidance explains about the roles and responsibilities. Understanding roles and responsibilities
If your charity does not have a person with responsibility for safeguarding this guidance explains about the roles and responsibilities that should be in place. Understanding roles and responsibilities
The information you enter in this tool is not saved on our servers. If you need to close this page at any point, select Record of actions you have taken on the progress bar and follow the instructions to print your progress.
Data protection
Are you storing and processing data as per to the Data Protection Act, and your internal data retention policy?

Data protection considerations are not a barrier to making safeguarding referrals. The Data Protection Act 2018 makes clear that safeguarding is a key consideration when deciding when and what data to share within and between organisations. 

However, confidentiality is important so information should only be shared with those who need to know. 

Data Protection Act 2018: Safeguarding of children and of individuals at risk

Information sharing advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers 

Safeguarding adults: sharing information

If you do need guidance on storing and processing data in accordance with the Data Protection Act you can find help here Data Protection and GDPR
Every organisation should have a written policy and procedure that is specific to their context about how they handle personal data and enact privacy principles. Data Protection and GDPR If your organisation does not have a policy in place, you should still proceed to the next step. However, confidentiality is important so information should only be shared with those who need to know.
Every organisation should have a written policy and procedure that is specific to their context about how they handle personal data and enact privacy principles. Data Protection and GDPR If your organisation does not have a policy in place, you should still proceed to the next step. However, confidentiality is important so information should only be shared with those who need to know.
The information you enter in this tool is not saved on our servers. If you need to close this page at any point, select Record of actions you have taken on the progress bar and follow the instructions to print your progress.