Protecting charities from abuse for extremist purposes

March 2024

Charity Commission Guidance update

Back in January 2013, the Charity Commission published guidance for the trustees of registered charities in England and Wales to help avoid the risk that terrorists and others with extremist views who encourage and support terrorism and terrorist ideology will use charity events to promote their causes.

The Commission maintains that such abuse takes place, but perhaps it is much more likely that charity events could be used by protesters to publicise their cause.

The Commission's updated guidance was published in March 2023. Charity trustees should manage any risks that events or publications:

  • break the law;
  • are outside the charity's objects; or
  • put the charity's assets and reputation, people or beneficiaries at undue risk.

These steps should be familiar to all charity trustees, but further detailed guidance (known as Chapter 5) is available to assist trustees considering the risk of terrorism:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/protecting-charities-from-abuse-for-extremist-purposes/chapter-5-protecting-charities-from-abuse-for-extremist-purposes

Scotland's Hate Crime Act

At the same time, the Scottish Government has passed new legislation, the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act, designed to tackle the harm caused by hatred and prejudice. The new law makes threatening or abusive behaviour an offence if intended to stir up hatred based on prejudice towards characteristics including age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics. 

https://www.gov.scot/publications/hate-crime-public-order-scotland-act-2021-information-note/

Both steps have been criticised for limiting freedom of expression.

Let us know if you would like some bespoke guidance on this subject

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