The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has refused to answer basic questions about a recent review into the governance of the organisation, after a request for information was made by Partners for Counselling and Psychotherapy (PCP). BACP cited the absence of “legal obligation” and a “feeling” that answering our questions “would be inappropriate”.
Our interaction with BACP over this matter began in November 2022, when we released a statement of concern, which was published on our website and sent to BACP. In our statement, we asked for, among other things: “The commissioning of a formal and independent Governance Review of the BACP Board”.
BACP’s response to us was delayed, for reasons which are unclear. On the 22nd December we received a response which included the following statement:
“Following the resignation of the trustees, a formal and independent review of the governance of BACP was commissioned. The review, conducted by an expert in governance, led to a series of recommendations being made to the Board of Trustees. The Board, supported by the Governance, Remunerations and Nominations (GRaN) Committeeand the governance team, are continuing to work through these recommendations to ensure the continued effective governance of BACP.”
(the full letter will be made available here shortly)
In our experience, governance reviews do not automatically cover the activities of the board. As PCP’s letter was submitted in response to the BACP’s governance changes over the last eighteen months, we responded asking for clarity about the scope and nature of the review. Our follow-up email is posted below:
Dear [Staff member*] and members of the Board
Thank you for your letter of 22 December 2022. There are a number of issues in which we are interested. However, we wish to focus at present on your ‘formal review of the governance of BACP’. Please will you provide details of the ‘expert in governance’ and their independent status? We are also interested in the scope of the review; please can you provide details of that? May we also please see the review report and its recommendations, together with the steps being taken to ensure effective governance?
Please note we have CCed members of the BACP board and the BACP CEO, for their information.
After more delays, we received the following response from BACP:
Thank you for your email and request for further information, and please accept our apologies for the delay in replying to you.
We’ve reviewed your request and, after careful consideration, feel it would be inappropriate to share this information. We have no legal obligation to share these details and as such, we’re unable to agree to your request.
We’d like to thank you again for contacting us.
Kind regards [staff member]
As a result of this exchange, we are no clearer about whether a governance review regarding the actions of the board has taken place, and BACP seem unable to confirm or deny this; nor will they give us any information about the review’s findings. Indeed, they have no legal duty to do so, but, do they have a duty of transparency to members, or to clients?
What might BACP be afraid of us learning, if they were to tell us about the scope of the review into governance and its findings? Why are they unable to tell us what steps are being taken to ensure effective governance?
In a period where the BACP CEO, Deputy CEO and seven trustees have stepped down, as well as other senior staff members, these feel like fundamental questions, and both members and the public are deserving of answers.
We urge BACP to rethink their decision to merely meet the legal bar of accountability, and to consider the importance of a fuller transparency of governance, in light of their prominent position as representatives of our profession.
Partners for Counselling and Psychotherapy (PCP)
*Staff member’s name redacted as they are not responsible for the decisions made by governance, and therefore we feel it would be unfair to name them.