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Safeguarding for Triratna charities is internally managed but externally accountable. The Charity Commission (England and Wales) and Scottish Charity Regulator require charity trustees to take internal measures to prevent and address harm in the course of their own activities. Where they are found to have failed in their duties they will be held externally accountable to those regulators, the police and the law.
Since responsibility and authority always go together, only trustees have the authority to implement Safeguarding policies and procedures in the charities they run. It is well established that to work well Safeguarding needs to be carried out by those within an organisation, who know its values and culture.
Triratna’s European Chairs’ Assembly, a charity run by all the Chairs of Triratna centres in Europe, has a Safeguarding team who provide advice and model policies to the trustees and Safeguarding officers of all those Centres, and many more around the world. The ECA Safeguarding team also provides a reporting service for those wishing to report harm or ethical concerns.
Report an ethical concern: safeguarding [at] triratna.community
Some have said that some who wish to report harm in Triratna will not feel safe to approach Triratna’s own Safeguarding team, not trusting them to be impartial, and that therefore Triratna needs to put in place an external reporting service.
This has been considered very seriously, with the help of the UK’s Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), who have conducted major Safeguarding reviews for the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales, as well as Thirtyone:eight, specialists in Safeguarding for UK faith groups. Both organisations say that no faith group in the UK has an external reporting service and that, at present at least, there is no body which could provide such a service.
We have also explored with Thirtyone:eight the possibility of using their general public helpline as a reporting service, as some other faith groups have done. Even this has proved impossible, because of one fundamental difficulty, in the area of charity law and regulation.
Such a service would need to be contracted between a Triratna charity and the body providing the external reporting service. To be permitted to receive complaints about the behaviour of Order members, that charity’s activities would have to encompass the activities of all Order members. This is because, as we’ve said above, the trustees of any given charity are permitted only to take responsibility for investigating and addressing complaints of harm said to have happened in the course of their own charity’s activities.
Yet the Order does not exist in law. There is no Triratna charity whose activities encompass the activities of all Order members, worldwide or even in one country. Even were the Order to be founded as a charity now, its trustees would not be permitted, and could not reasonably be expected, to take responsibility for harm said to have happened before the founding of that charity.
Ways may still be found to provide an external reporting service. However, concerns are being reported to us, so it is clear our current provision is working for many people.
External review of Safeguarding policies
Triratna’s model Safeguarding policies and guidance documents 2020 are being reviewed by Thirtyone:eight, who will also review the Panel process created in 2018 to support the independent, objective and consistent determination of facts where there are serious allegations against a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order. (It’s important to note that the Panel process has yet to be formally reviewed within Triratna and has not been formally adopted by any body within Triratna.)
Report a concern via the ECA Safeguarding team: safeguarding [at] triratna.community
Read the latest posts and documents relating to Safeguarding and Ethics in Triratna.