Charity Commission opens Inquiry into National Bullying Helpline

(Immediate Release 25 February 2010)

 

 

 

 

The Charity Commission, the independent charity regulator for England and Wales, has today opened a statutory inquiry* into the National Bullying Helpline (registered charity no. 1117852).

The inquiry comes in response to increasing public concern about the charity, including over 160 complaints made to the Commission this week. Concerns have been raised about the protection of confidential information held by the charity as a result of the operation of the charity's confidential helpline for victims of bullying. The Commission has a statutory responsibility to promote public trust and confidence in charities, and is aware of the potential impact on other charities that run confidential helplines.

The focus of the inquiry is to ensure the trustees continue to protect this confidential and sensitive information. As a temporary and protective measure, the Commission has made an order** preventing the transmission or disclosure of information, including details about the nature and source of the confidential calls it has received, without the permission of the Commission.

In addition, the inquiry will cover other issues within our remit, relating to the charity's policies and procedures on data protection and confidentiality of information gathered during the course of its work, and issues surrounding referrals understood to have been made by the charity to a business connected with one of its trustees.

We are aware that the trustees have suspended the operation of the helpline and indicated they are independently considering the future of the charity. It is also important to give an assurance to the public and the charity's beneficiaries of the protection of sensitive information.

The Commission's inquiry relates to the proper discharge of the duties and responsibilities of the trustees of the charity. Any issue relating to the possible breach of data protection and privacy law including the public disclosure or use of personal data is a matter for the Information Commissioner’s Office.

At the conclusion of the investigation, a statement of results of the inquiry will be published in accordance with our usual procedures.

End.

PR 15/10

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Notes to Editors

*In cases of significant risk and serious regulatory concern the Commission may open a statutory (formal) inquiry under Section 8 of the Charities Act 1993. The decision to open a statutory inquiry will be based on a number of factors, including evidence of risk to charity property. The criteria used for opening an inquiry are set out in the Risk and Proportionality Framework for the Commission’s compliance work on its website.

**The Commission has a range of powers that are available to it when a Section 8 Inquiry is open, including powers to order a person holding property on behalf of the charity not to part with it without the approval of the Commission (Section 18, Charities Act 1993).

1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. See www.charitycommission.gov.uk for further information or call our contact centre on 0845 300 0218.

2. Our mission is: to ensure charities’ legal compliance, enhance charities’ accountability, encourage charities’ effectiveness and impact and to promote the public interest in charity.

3. The National Bullying Helpline is a registered charity (charity no 1117852). The charity’s objects are the preservation and protection of good health of those affected by bullying in the workplace and other environments, through the provision of a helpline service, counselling, advice, mediation, education and training in the prevention of bullying and such activities considered to be bullying.

 

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