RSPCA Still Getting It Wrong

The charity commission has received more complaints about the RSPCA than any other charity for each of the last two years. (Freedom of Information Act Third Sector) The RSPCA recently received the largest fine amongst charities for breaches of data protection laws.

Former chief executive, Gavin Grant, left after  two years in charge  followed  by his deputy. After a hiatus Jeremy Cooper became chief executive but resigned after a year at odds with some trustees political agenda with an adversarial stance on many issues and his desire to see rectification of mistakes.

What the Charity Commission Has to Say on the RSPCA

  • The governance of the RSPCA remains below that which we expect in a modern charity and we are concerned about the impact on public confidence.
  • RSPCA governance must be ‘brought up to standard’.
  • This has been brought into focus by the departure of the CEO and the clear recommendations of the charity’s independent governance review that the Commission requested the charity carry out.
  • We will consider what further regulatory action may be required should improvements not be made with the necessary urgency.

RSPCA and Police Powers

  • One objective of the charity appears to be obtaining police powers for  RSPCA inspectors. This could allow RSPCA  access to private property without the presence of a police officer as is currently required.
  • A cross party group of MP’s have already expressed doubts about this mooted change. Last month at the AGM the intention to get increase powers was reiterated.
  • If Defra and national police chiefs do not block this change to increase inspectors powers local authorities may be asked to act locally.

Concerns

  • Is the RSPCA a welfare charity for animals, a trustee’s political platform or will it become a private police force? Following their recent track record who would trust them as a police force?
  • When a situation is known to be bad, as is in this case of the RSPCA, it is often worse. What else may crawl out of the woodwork before better governance is in place.
  • RSPCA is a national institution, custodians of over £200,000,000 of reserves, beneficiaries of large regular income flows. However getting so many issue ‘wrong’ the public’s goodwill and thus future income and animal care will suffer.
  • As result of it’s privileged position in our society the RSPCA lives in a media spotlight. Ignore this at their peril.

BBC Panorama Programme 3rd August 2017

Further controversy has been raised by Panorama’s investigation into the RSPCA since we commented 4 weeks ago. I was taken by the comments by 2 defence barristers who both felt they had been unacceptably targeted by the RSPCA.

Preemptive comments were issued prior to the programme by the RSPCA

  1. We’re disappointed to learn that BBC Panorama will broadcast a programme about the RSPCA on Thursday 3 August 2017.  We understand that the programme will seek to portray an RSPCA that would not be recognised by its staff, volunteers, supporters or the many thousands of animals and people helped each year. ………….. ……… It will not recognise these things because it has chosen not to.’
  2. The Mirror reported that Brian May the Queen guitarist and animal rights activist feared a ‘hatchet job’ was to be orchestrated as part of  a campaign by the pro fox hunting lobby against the RSPCA.

‘Me thinks they doth protest too much’ – better to’ man up’ and resolve the serious issues of inappropriate governance.

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