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By Amelia Hill
October 18, 2009 / Guardian.co.uk
Investigations into paedophiles, rapists and sex abusers working as charity trustees have tripled in the past year. They include individuals involved with organisations that work closely with children and other vulnerable people.
According to a report from the Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, a growing number of criminals on the sex offenders register are being proposed as, or are acting as, trustees and board members.
The commission found that many of the charities it investigated did not routinely carry out basic Criminal Record Bureau checks to discover whether those being nominated had convictions disqualifying them from occupying certain roles. Other charities had policies that were not sufficiently rigorous.
The report's findings have been called "shocking and unacceptable" by John Carr, secretary of the Children's Charities' Coalition for Internet Safety, who speaks on behalf of a number of UK children's charities, including the NSPCC, Barnardo's, the Children's Society and the NCH.
The Charity Commission report, to be published tomorrow, will state: "Safeguarding vulnerable beneficiaries must be a key priority of all trustee boards of charities that work with, or run activities for, children or vulnerable adults. Procedures to ensure that this happens must be properly and consistently applied without exception; otherwise trustees are failing in their legal duty of care to the charity and its beneficiaries."
The commission took action in 30 cases in 2008, up from nine in 2007. Measures included suspending or removing the trustees and reporting incidents to the police.