Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator

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Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR)
Logo of the OSCR
Agency overview
Formed16 December 2003 (2003-12-16)
  • Scottish Charities Office
TypeNon-ministerial government department
HeadquartersQuadrant House, 9 Riverside Drive, Dundee DD1 4NY
Annual budget£3.28 million (2020-2021)[1]
Agency executives
  • George Walker[2], Chair
  • Maureen Mallon[2], Chief Executive

The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) (Scottish Gaelic: Oifis Riaghladair Carthannais na h-Alba) is a non-ministerial department of the Scottish Government with responsibility for the regulation of charities in Scotland.

OSCR is the independent regulator and registrar for more than 24,000 Scottish charities.[3] OSCR is charged with developing a regulatory framework for Scottish charities, where each charity is clear about is rights and responsibilities. This framework should also foster public confidence in charities. OSCR is directly answerable to the Scottish Parliament. OSCR is based in Dundee.


In 1981 the Law Society of Scotland announced support for a register through which all charities in Scotland could record their purposes, financial details and accounts.[4] Under section 6 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990,[5] the Lord Advocate was given the power to make enquiries either for general or specific purposes and to obtain various types of information from charities. Following the Scotland Act and the establishment of both the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government this power was exercised by the Scottish Ministers.

Initially charity regulation was carried out by the Scottish Charities Office, a department in the Crown Office, but they were only able to investigate a charity on receipt of a complaint or when they had reasonable grounds to suspect problems.[6] The regulatory function was transferred to OSCR in December 2003.[7]


It was formerly an executive agency but following the passing of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005[8] it was made independent of ministerial control, and answers directly to the Scottish Parliament. It is the equivalent of the Charity Commission for England and Wales and the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.

In 2005, OSCR published the first definitive list of 18,000 charities operating in Scotland – this information was searchable.[9]

OSCR's full regulatory powers came into force on 24 April 2006.[10]

In July 2008, OSCR published results of a survey showing some positive attitudes towards the organisation from the charity sector and the public.[11]


The OSCR perform a range of functions which includes:[12]

  • Determining whether bodies are charities.
  • Keeping a public Register of charities.
  • Facilitating compliance by charities with the legislation.
  • Investigating any apparent misconduct in the administration of charities.
  • Giving information or advice to Scottish Ministers.

OSCR also has a role to protect whistleblowers from detrimental treatment. Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, OSCR is a "prescribed person" and therefore allowed to accept disclosures from people who carry out paid work for a charity.[13]


  1. ^ Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator Annual Report 2020-2021 (PDF), Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, retrieved 24 August 2022
  2. ^ a b "OSCR Board". Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. Retrieved 24 August 2022.
  3. ^ "About OSCR". Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Charities register plan by lawyers". The Glasgow Herald. 5 February 1981. p. 10. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  5. ^ "section 6 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990". National Archives. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  6. ^ Macleod, Murdo (25 May 2003). "Charities watchdog to be set up after fundraising scandal". Scotland on Sunday. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Protocol for liaison between the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator and the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service" (PDF). Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator. August 2004. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act". Archived from the original on 17 August 2012.
  9. ^ "First profile of Scottish charities placed online". The Scotsman. 8 December 2005. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  10. ^ Smith, Susan (25 April 2016). "Public and charities have faith in OSCR". Third Force News. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  11. ^ Wallace, Caroline (17 December 2008). "So far, so good, but watchdog is still a work in progress". The Scotsman. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  12. ^ "About OSCR: Our work". Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  13. ^ "About charities > Raise a concern > Whistleblowing". 4 August 2020.

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