The third sector got a stern warning from the Charity Commission on Wednesday after banned terrorist outfits laid hands on goods and funds belonging to British charities.
A statement from the commission reminded charities and those working in the third sector that they are obliged to report suspected terrorist funding offences during the course of their work, following a “small number of recent cases” in which charity assets were lost to terrorists.
“The commission is alert to the risks charities and their staff face when working in unstable and dangerous countries and locations and recognises the potential risk of loss to terrorist groups,” the statement read.
“It is for this reason that all charities working in areas where there is a risk of terrorism need to assess and manage the risks whilst always acting reasonably and in the best interests of their charity.”
According to the commission, an investigation by Counter Terrorism Command into the recent cases found “there was no indication that the charities involved had knowingly allowed their assets to be used for terrorism.
“However, whilst the charities had their own policies and procedures for reporting such incidents and losses internally, these did not include reporting such instances to a ‘constable’ in accordance with section 19 of TACT [the Terrorism Act 2000].”
In one instance an apparent offence was identified by Counter Terrorism Command because of a delay in reporting the incident to the police, but the unit took the view that it was not in the “public interest” to prosecute, an assessment the Crown Prosecution Service agreed with.
Charity staff and volunteers are obliged to report such incidents as soon as possible to police and the Charity Commission, and charities should train staff and put in place policies to facilitate such reporting.