Britain’s charities are facing soaring numbers of complaints of abuse and mistreatment.
A total of 5,730 ‘serious incidents’ – the majority concerning the safeguarding of vulnerable people, including sex cases – were reported to the Charity Commission in 2019/20.
This is the equivalent of 15 incidents every day, and represents a 47 per cent increase on the year before, according to the watchdog’s annual report. In 2018/19 there were 3,895 serious incidents.
The statistics come amid claims that aid workers are continuing to abuse and exploit refugees with Labour MP Sarah Champion saying she is shocked by claims that little is being done to stop it.
Safeguarding incidents are those which have ‘resulted in or risk significant harm to beneficiaries and other people who come into contact with the charity through its work’.
Britain’s charities are facing soaring numbers of complaints of abuse and mistreatment with a total of 5,730 ‘serious incidents’ reported to the Charity Commission in 2019/20
They can include serious sexual abuse, exploitation and harassment complaints, as well as cases of neglect, bullying or racial discrimination.
Britain’s foreign aid charities have been mired in a sex abuse crisis since it emerged that Oxfam workers had used prostitutes during a humanitarian crisis in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake there.
Earlier this week, the Daily Mail revealed that aid charities made 452 incident reports relating to safeguarding, of which three in five related to sex cases.
But today’s revelations suggest the problem is much more widespread among charities than previously thought – and is also a serious problem outside the aid sector. In 2019/20 there were 3,411 safeguarding incidents reported across the sector – nearly 60 per cent of the total.
The most common type of harm reported is ‘abuse and mistreatment’, the watchdog said. This includes sex cases but the report did not reveal the proportion. Other serious incidents included 897 reports of fraud and 43 claims that charity staff were linked to terrorism or extremism.
The commission’s annual report for 2019/20 said the ‘abuse and mistreatment of people’ remained the most prominent threats in the charity sector.
It also revealed that the number of whistleblowers breaking cover to speak out about practices at their charities soared by a third to 247.
The commission has used its regulatory powers against charities 1,962 times – up 5 per cent in a year. It has concluded 181 statutory inquiries into charities – up 17 per cent on the year before.
Britain’s aid sector has been mired in controversy for two years, with major organisations such as Oxfam and Save the Children admitting huge failings. This week the Mail revealed that significant numbers of staff at the Department for International Development had also been implicated for the first time. In 2019/20 there were 26 safeguarding cases reported.
Helen Stephenson (pictured), the Charity Commission’s chief executive, said: ‘Over the past few years, we have seen grave governance failings in some household name charities. As recent inquiries have shown, if charities fail in their responsibility to keep people safe, we will not hesitate to take action.’
The Charity Commission would not reveal which charities had sent in the most incident reports, but recently the watchdog has investigated serious failings at the Royal National Institute for the Blind, where children were found to be ‘at risk of harm’.
The regulator handed the charity an official warning following serious concerns about services provided at its Pears Centre children’s home in Coventry. The issues included medication errors, use of physical restraint and failure to answer questions on an unexplained injury to a child.
It has also launched an investigation into a charity-run cinema in Newcastle upon Tyne, which has been hit by allegations of sexual abuse and harassment.
Charities have to report all their ‘serious incidents’ to the Charity Commission.
Helen Stephenson, the watchdog’s chief executive, said: ‘Over the past few years, we have seen grave governance failings in some household name charities. As recent inquiries have shown, if charities fail in their responsibility to keep people safe, we will not hesitate to take action.’
… and aid staff ‘still exploiting refugees’
By Simon Walters for the Daily Mail
The MP leading an inquiry into sex abuse scandals involving British aid charities said she is shocked by claims that little is being done to stop a repeat.
Horrific examples of continued sexual exploitation of women and children by aid workers have been given to the Commons international development committee.
Experts told MPs that, two years after it was revealed that Oxfam workers used prostitutes in earthquake-hit Haiti, the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) has done ‘zero’ to boost safeguards for charity sector sex abuse whistleblowers.
The first meeting of the latest Commons investigation into sex abuse by aid workers was told that refugees are still being offered extra food for sex – and left to starve if they refuse. MPs heard that would-be whistleblowers are scared to expose sexual misconduct by aid bosses – and are gagged by being forced to sign non-disclosure legal agreements.
The committee’s chairman, Labour MP Sarah Champion, said she was ‘shocked’ and ‘disappointed’ that ‘sexual abuse and exploitation of [aid] beneficiaries’ is still going on. Tory MP Richard Bacon expressed his fury that ‘household name big charities with chief executives’ had done nothing to sort out the scandal.
Notorious: Roland van Hauwermeiren was involved in an Oxfam abuse scandal
In one of the most notorious foreign aid sex abuse scandals, Roland van Hauwermeiren, Oxfam’s director of operations in Haiti, was allowed to resign after admitting using prostitutes there following the devastating earthquake in the country in 2010. The Belgian went on to work elsewhere in the aid sector.
Professor Rosa Freedman, of Reading University, who advises the United Nations on combating sexual exploitation, told the committee it was time to stop regarding aid charities ‘as though they are angels out there doing good’.
She said while they do important work, ‘that does not mean they can operate outside the rules that apply to everyone else’. She added that most sex abuse claims against the UN involved its refugee camps ‘because there is no escape’.
Alina Potts, of the Global Women’s Institute campaign group, claimed that aid workers told women and girl refugees: ‘If you fall in love with me, I will give you more food.’
A woman at a refugee camp in Bangladesh was ‘abused by a man who threatened to stop her rations if she did not have sex with him’, she said.
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Labour MP Dawn Butler is pulled over by the police driving through London
Labour’s Dawn Butler has accused the police of racially profiling her after she was pulled over while driving in East London.
The MP for Brent Central filmed her heated confrontation with two officers in Hackney.
While two uniformed constables stand outside her car, she tells them through the window: ‘I’ve been doing a lot of work with the police on stop and search, and how the police are stop and searching, and actually the way you do it and the way you profile is wrong.
‘Because what you do is, you create an environment where you create animosity.
‘And it’s irritating because you cannot drive around on a Sunday afternoon whilst black because you’re going to be stopped by the police.’
Ms Butler acknowledged the male officer had been ‘polite’, but said the ‘profiling was completely off’.
It comes after Ms Butler yesterday called for Scotland Yard commissioner Cressida Dick to resign for failing to extinguish ‘institutional racism’ from the force.
Labour’s Dawn Butler has railed on social media after being pulled over by police in East London
A Met chief superintendent confirmed there had been a police stop and that the MP had expressed her ‘concerns’.
Chief Superintendent Roy Smith said: ‘I’ve just spoken with Dawn Butler by phone.
‘She has given me a very balanced account of the incident. She was positive about one officer and gave feedback on others & the stop.
‘We are listening to those concerns and Dawn is quite entitled to raise them.’
Although it is not clear what happened, friends of Ms Butler rallied around her.
Kate Osamor MP, who sits alongside her on the Labour backbenches, replied: ‘Hope you’re ok?’
Ms Butler, who served as Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow minister for women and equalities, yesterday hit out at Metropolitan Police officers who rubbished the notion children should be invulnerable to arrest.
In a scathing rebuke, she tweeted: ‘The problem is you are arresting children going for a bike ride or going to the shops for a loaf of bread.
‘Not all African-Caribbean boys should be viewed as criminals! I should be surprised the police liked this but sadly I’m not.’
And in an article published yesterday, she called on Scotland Yard Commissioner Cressida Dick to resign for failing to stamp out ‘institutional racism’ within her ranks.
She wrote in Metro: ‘In case anyone doubts the experiences of people of colour, the statistics are stark.
‘The Met are four times more likely to use force on Black people. They have stopped and searched the equivalent of one in four young black men in London during lockdown.’
She added: ‘At this most pivotal time the commissioner thought it appropriate to say that “institutionally racist” is not a “useful way to describe” the force, which is not only unhelpful but offensive.
‘It is quite telling. Cressida Dick appears to be incapable of tackling this long-known problem, and incapable of showing solidarity with those people who suffer from it the most, so she should resign.’
The Metropolitan Police said it is looking into the episode and Ms Butler could not be reached.
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Lebanese protesters threaten more violence – as as shocking video shows moment of massive explosion
Furious protesters in Lebanon have threatened further violence after a night of street clashes in which they stormed several ministries.
The city of Beirut was shaken by a deadly explosion on August 4 and though the exact circumstances that led to the blast are as yet unknown.
Despite this, many in Lebanon blame the corruption and incompetence of their government for allowing the explosion which has so far killed 158.
Furious protesters in Lebanon have threatened further violence after a night of street clashes in which they stormed several ministries following the devastating explosion in Beirut on August 4
French experts working at the scene of the explosion say that the crater left by the explosion measures as large as 43-metre (141 foot) deep
A staggering 6,000 people were left injured by the blast which created a mushroom cloud that reminded many of an atomic bomb.
Mobile phone footage has also emerged on social media showing the moment of the explosion in high definition slow motion.
Agoston Nemeth, 42, recorded the footage on the terrace of his home, only 850ft from the explosion site.
Loud rumbling can be heard in the video as black smoke engulfs the sky, before a huge mushroom cloud and visible blast wave blows out the windows, rushing towards the camera and knocking it over.
Describing his experience of the explosion, Nemeth said: ‘It was something I could not get away from. I experienced this white-hot glass exploding.
One message circulated on social media by angry protesters said: ‘Prepare the gallows because our anger doesn’t end in one day’
Rescue teams search for missing people today near the site of the explosion that hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon
‘I don’t know if I jumped or the shock waves pushed me, and I found myself on the floor. I don’t know how much time passed.
‘I noticed shattering glass and people screaming. I looked around and saw this huge orange cloud above me
A security official who was citing French experts working at the site of the disaster said that a a 43-metre (141 foot) deep crater had been left at Beirut’s port.
One message circulated on social media by angry protesters said: ‘Prepare the gallows because our anger doesn’t end in one day.’
The protesters’s anger has re-ignited calls from demonstrations last year calling for the wholesale removal of Lebanon’s leadership.
The army was forced to deploy tear gas and rubber bullets to try and clear the crowds of protesters from Martyrs’ Square after street violence left 65 people injured, according to the Red Cross.
Demonstrators clash with police during a protest against the political elites and the government last night
Tear gas and rubber bullets were used by the Lebanese army to try and break up crowds of protesters last night
Demonstrates even occupied the foreign ministry’s building temporarily before being forced out by the army after three hours. Pictured: protesters and riot police clash in Beirut yesterday
Information minister Manal Abdel Samad (pictured) has left office and apologised to the Lebanese people for having failed them
Demonstrates even occupied the foreign ministry’s building temporarily before being forced out by the army after three hours.
The economy and energy ministries were also stormed this weekend by protesters brandishing nooses.
The head of Lebanon’s Maronite church patriarch Beshara Rai joined the chorus of angry voices and said the blast could be ‘described as a crime against humanity’.
And today has seen the first Lebanese minister resign from government in response to the public outcry.
Information minister Manal Abdel Samad left office and apologised to the Lebanese people for having failed them.
People ride past damaged cars earlier today in a neighbourhood near the scene of the explosion
A car drives past the site of the explosion earlier today. The explosion left as many as 6,000 people injured
Local media suggest that more ministers will also resign but the government will wait to see how many personnel depart before potentially announcing its own resignation.
Lebanon Prime Minister Hassan Diab said Saturday he would propose early elections to break the impasse that is plunging Lebanon ever deeper into political and economic crisis.
In a televised address he said: ‘We can’t exit the country’s structural crisis without holding early parliamentary elections.’
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron has overseen a UN’back conference to raise aid for Lebanon and said that the world mys respond ‘quickly and effectively’ to the disaster.
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Mauritians race to contain catastrophic oil spill swamping island’s pristine beaches and coral reefs
Thousands of volunteers in Mauritius are racing to contain a catastrophic oil spill swamping its pristine ocean and beaches on Sunday.
The bulk carrier MV Wakashio has been seeping fuel into a protected marine park boasting unspoiled coral reefs, mangrove forests and endangered species, prompting the government to declare an unprecedented environmental emergency.
Attempts to stabilise the stricken vessel, which ran aground on July 25 but only started leaking oil this week, and pump 4,000 tonnes of fuel from its hold have failed, and local authorities fear rough seas could further rupture the tanker.
Volunteers line the beaches, many smeared head-to-toe in black sludge, in a desperate attempt to hold back the oily tide
Thick muck has spilled into unspoiled marine habitats and white-sand beaches, causing what experts say is irreparable damage
An aerial photograph shows the MV Wakashio, a Japanese owned Panama-flagged bulk carrier ship leaking oil after it ran aground on a coral reef off the southeast coast of Mauritius on July 25
Japan said Sunday it would send a six-member expert team to assist, joining France which dispatched a naval vessel and military aircraft from nearby Reunion Island after Mauritius issued an appeal for international help.
Thousands of volunteers, many smeared head-to-toe in black sludge, are marshalling along the coastline, stringing together miles of improvised floating barriers made of straw in a desperate attempt to hold back the oily tide.
Mitsui OSK Lines, which operates the vessel owned by another Japanese company, said Sunday that 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil had escaped so far.
‘We are terribly sorry,’ the shipping firm’s vice president, Akihiko Ono, told reporters in Tokyo, promising to ‘make all-out efforts to resolve the case’.
But conservationists say the damage could already be done.
Aerial images show the enormous scale of the disaster, with huge stretches of azure seas around the marooned cargo ship stained a deep inky black, and the region’s fabled lagoons and inlets clouded over.
Around 1,000 tons of oil have already been spilt into the Indian Ocean prompting the government in Mauritius to declare an unprecedented environmental emergency
Volunteers clean up oil washing up on the beach as they try to contain the oil slick. Anxious residents are making floating barriers of straw in an attempt to contain and absorb the oil
Thick muck has inundated unspoiled marine habitats and white-sand beaches, causing what experts say is irreparable damage to the fragile coastal ecosystem upon which Mauritius and its economy relies.
Pressure is mounting on the government to explain why more wasn’t done in the two weeks since the bulker ran aground.
The opposition has called for the resignation of the environment and fisheries ministers, while volunteers have ignored an official order to leave the clean-up operation to local authorities, donning rubber gloves to sift through the sludge.
‘People by the thousands are coming together. No one is listening to the government anymore,’ said Ashok Subron, an environmental activist at Mahebourg, one of the worst-hit areas.
‘People have realised that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora.’
Aerial images show the enormous scale of the disaster as black oil continues to leak from the grounded ship into the ocean staining the azure seas a deep inky black
The oil slick is drifting to the northwest around the Ile aux Aigrettes island and towards Mahebourg as frustration mounts over why more wasn’t done to prevent the ecological disaster
The oil tanker was sailing from China to Brazil when it hit coral reefs near Pointe d’Esny, an ecological jewel surrounded by idyllic beaches, colourful reefs, sanctuaries for rare and endemic wildlife
Police said Sunday they would execute a search warrant granted by a Mauritius court to board the Wakashio and seize items of interest, including the ship’s log book and communication as part of its investigation into the accident.
The ship’s captain, a 58-year-old Indian, will accompany officers on the search, police said. Twenty crew members evacuated safely from the Japanese-owned but Panamanian-flagged ship when it ran aground are under surveillance.
Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has convened a crisis meeting later Sunday, after expressing concern that forecast bad weather could further complicate efforts to stymie the spill, and cause more structural damage to the hull.
Conservationists fear the damage could already be done to the region’s fabled lagoons and inlets as images show black oil washed up on the coastline
Ecologists fear if the ship further breaks it could inflict a potentially fatal blow to on the island nation’s coastline.
The Wakashio struck a reef at Pointe d’Esny, an ecological jewel fringed by idyllic beaches, colourful reefs, sanctuaries for rare and endemic wildlife, and unique RAMSAR-listed wetlands.
Mauritius and its 1.3 million inhabitants depend crucially on the sea for ecotourism, having fostered a reputation as a conservation success story and a world-class destination for nature lovers.
But it also relies on its natural bounty for food and income. Seafarers in Mahebourg, where the once-spotless seas have turned a sickly brown, worried about the future.
‘Fishing is our only activity. We dont know how we will be able to feed our families,’ one fishermen, who gave his name as Michael, told AFP.
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