Safeguarding has always been of critical importance. We have seen it rise rapidly in the regulatory agenda as well as having significant media prominence. We understand your need to deal with these matters quickly, confidentially and with utmost sensitivity.

Safeguarding has evolved quickly in the last year, particularly but not only in the charity sector. That’s where we come in. As a full service law firm we are well-placed to advise on a full range of contentious and non-contentious safeguarding issues in relation to children and vulnerable adults. We are also able to provide advice in respect of the wider definition of safeguarding that has been more-recently adopted in the wake of the “me too” phenomenon and recent press coverage to encompass exploitation, breaches of proper conduct and duties of care to staff, volunteers, beneficiaries and local communities more generally. It is now essential that charities review the suitability, robustness and effectiveness of their processes and policies in relation to safeguarding and other issues such as whistleblowing, harassment, disciplinary and the safety of (and from) their staff and volunteers.

How can we help you?

Emma Dowden-Teale leads the firm’s multi-disciplinary specialist safeguarding team, which enjoys both depth and breadth of expertise in public law, charity regulation, employment law, information law, human rights, equalities, education, health and social care and inquests and inquiries, in respect of which many team members are recognised as leaders in their respective fields. As such, we are uniquely placed to support you, whether you are a service provider (in relation to children and vulnerable adults or more widely) or are purely a funder, including advising on national or international safeguarding requirements, connected policies and governance and/or what to do in the event that issues arise within your organisation.

Our recent safeguarding experience includes:

  • crisis management and responding to safeguarding allegations or concerns;
  • advising senior management and boards of trustees on regulatory requirements, including the conduct of reviews, Serious Incident Reporting to the Charity Commission and reporting to local authorities and other regulators (including CQC and Ofsted) as well as management of insurance considerations;
  • inquiries by various public bodies in relation to safeguarding of learners, service users or wider classes of beneficiaries including CQC, Ofsted, local authorities and the Charity Commission;
  • advising on DBS checks for employees, volunteers, trustees and consultants, including advising on when a new check is needed, what roles fall within regulated activity, compliance with the Code on dealing with DBS information, as well as the provision of references and reporting to the DBS;
  • advising in relation to allegations of historic abuse;
  • drafting and reviewing safeguarding and related policies and compliance with safeguarding legislation and guidance, including reviewing and updating clients’ entire suites of safeguarding documents including the central policy, regional branches and related forms and policies;
  • representing interested persons in inquests and advising on related matters; and
  • providing training nationally on safeguarding law issues.

BWB is acting on a number of high profile matters and is also playing a central role as thought leaders through publication of guidance and at sector events such as the All Party Parliamentary Group, Bond, NCVO and the Association of Chairs.

Public Inquiries

Our inquiries work is led by Melanie Carter, who also heads BWB’s Public & Regulatory law team. The team regularly advises public, regulatory and other not for profit/public interest organisations in relation to public inquiries. The team also work closely with charity law specialist colleagues in respect of statutory inquiries opened by the Charity Commission.

Recent inquiry experience in relation to safeguarding includes:

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)

We are acting for a number of large charities on their involvement in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), including advice on the Inquiries Act 2005, the preservation of records and the interplay with the Data Protection Act and on reporting obligations to the Charity Commission as registered charities.

• Advice to various clients in connection with the International Development Committee Inquiry into Sexual Exploitation in the Aid Sector.

• Various Charity Commission Statutory Inquiries opened or contemplated in connection with safeguarding concerns.

Wass Inquiry

We advised the Lucy Faithfull Foundation on the Wass Inquiry into allegations concerning child safety issues in St Helena and Ascension Islands. This work involved preparing witnesses for appearance before the Inquiry, advising on the Maxwellisation process, and making representations to the Inquiry.