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MPs criticise slow progress on safeguarding by NGOs

A group of MPs has claimed that charities are too reluctant to publish detailed information about allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, and that an independent ombudsman is needed. In its follow up report to the inquiry into sexual exploitation and abuse, the International Development Committee’s calls on Bond, the membership body for aid and development charities, to do more to improve transparency across the sector and to offer practical support to help get safeguarding right. 

The Committee believes that voluntary self-regulation of safeguarding standards allows failures on sexual exploitation and abuse “to slip through the cracks” and repeats earlier calls for an ombudsman for the sector. It criticises progress on transparency, describing it as “limited” and says some were more “seemingly more willing than others to publish information about the number of allegations they have received and the outcome”. The report also calls for whistleblowers to be empowered and protected, and said that so far the sector has not given this area enough attention. 

Responding to the criticism, Bond said that the committee had overlooked progress that had been made, and highlighted the hard work undertaken by the NGO sector to “up its game” across a wide range of aspects of safeguarding. It emphasised the focus there had been on what to do when handling complaints and reporting safeguarding incidents, as well as supporting improved governance, leadership, and culture.