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OSCR’s regulatory role

Published: 04/05/2018
Updated: 04/05/2018


OSCR’s role is to make sure that charities comply with the requirements of Scottish charity law and that charity trustees run charities in line with their legal duties.

In the context of safeguarding, our focus is to make sure that charity trustees deal appropriately with any alleged safeguarding concerns affecting their charity. We look to see that charity trustees take steps to protect vulnerable beneficiaries from harm and minimise the risk of abuse.

OSCR is not responsible for dealing with incidents of actual abuse and does not oversee safeguarding legislation. Where incidents of abuse are alleged, it’s the role of the police to investigate whether a criminal offence may have been committed. We can and do refer any concerns we have to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service or other relevant agencies. We will give the highest priority to any case where there is a live risk of harm.

When we receive a concern about a charity we assess it in line with our Inquiry Policy. The policy sets out the matters that OSCR can and can’t deal with and explains how we assess concerns to decide if we can take them forward.


Reporting Safeguarding incidents to OSCR under the Notifiable Events Regime
OSCR’s notifiable events scheme requires charity trustees to report events that are likely to have a significant impact on their charity. When there has been a significant incident involving a child or a vulnerable adult, then this should be reported to us. 

Reporting demonstrates that charity trustees have identified a serious risk to their charity and that they are taking appropriate action to deal with it and protect the charity from further harm.

When reporting, trustees should be as transparent as possible about the facts of the case and the actions being taken. This will allow us to assess if the appropriate actions are being taken in any given case.    

There is no legal requirement to report a notifiable event. However, it is an important way for charity trustees to reassure us that they are on top of the issues they are facing. Ultimately, we may become concerned if there has been a matter that has not been reported to us; especially if it goes on to have a negative impact on the individual charity or the wider charity sector. Where something significant has happened within a charity and this has not been reported to us in full, we will take this into account if we have to open an inquiry. Ultimately, this could be considered to be misconduct. 

Reporting a notifiable event helps OSCR to assess the volume and impact of safeguarding incidents within charities and to understand the risks facing the sector as a whole. This helps us to decide how we can better support charities through our guidance and assess where we need to focus our activities.

You can email us at notifiable@oscr.org.uk outlining the following:

  • What the event is and how it has (or may have) a serious impact on the charity. We need enough details to understand the event, but please don’t worry about having a final polished report. If the information is clear and gives us what we need, we are not worried about the format.  We will ask for more information if we need it.
  • What action (if any) has already been taken?
  • What further plans the charity trustees have in place to deal with the event?
  • What plans the charity trustees have in place to mitigate similar things happening in the future.

If you’re not sure whether to report something as a notifiable event please contact us.


Beyond safeguarding
Making sure vulnerable beneficiaries are safe and secure is fundamental to many of Scotland’s charities. Those set up to support vulnerable beneficiaries often go further than just protection, they create an environment in which individuals have the potential to flourish. 

While this guidance concentrates on working with vulnerable beneficiaries, there are wider issues that all charity trustees need to think about: Creating a culture in their charity that allows all those that work, volunteer and benefit from their activities to do so in a safe and secure environment.