The importance of risk assessments

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Trustees are under a duty to act in the best interests of their beneficiaries but must act to ensure that the charity operates correctly. Risk assessment is key – whatever the trustees decide to do.

If carrying out work abroad then risk assessments must be in place to cover – employee’s activities, volunteers’ activities, monies passing out from the UK (especially if not through a properly regulated bank via an account in the charity name).

Recent guidance has been issued on ‘cash couriers’. These being people who will take cash sums out of the UK to other countries in the name of the charity.

However, they are unregulated and if regulated means are not used the trustees must ensure that decisions and risk assessments are minuted; that there is a formal agreement with the agent carrying the cash; that they have looked at obtaining specialised insurance; and that they have self-reported the amount of cash if over £10,000 to HMRC before it leaves the country.

Carrying cash makes the courier an easy target for criminals and also for the enforcement agencies to cease the monies if they believe the purpose of the journey and the monies are ambiguous. This can lead to the monies being seized and a forfeiture order being made. This then takes a long time and financial commitment to sort out.

Working internationally can involve language barriers and hence misunderstandings; so, all communication needs to be clear, unambiguous, and agreed. Issues such as safeguarding should be considered and volunteer policies regularly reviewed, especially if volunteers are heading into troubled areas.

The watchwords are risk assessment. Consider the steps you want to take, the risks and note them, along with your decision.

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