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Whistle Blowing Policy

This policy applies to all those who perform work for our Council:

  • The Chief Executive, Directors and Heads of Service
  • Full and part-time employees
  • Contractors and sub-contractors
  • Agency staff
  • Work experience, employees on the Council’s workers scheme, casual staff and other trainees including apprentices

For simplicity, this group of individuals is termed ‘staff’.

The following arrangements set out our policy and procedures with regard to “Whistle blowing” in the workplace, and provide protection to staff that make disclosures to the Council.  Whistle blowing is the confidential disclosure by staff of any wrong-doing that they may encounter in the workplace that could put the Council and/or the public at risk.

This policy is fundamental to the professional integrity of the Council and reinforces the value that the Council places on staff to be honest and respected members of their individual professions. The policy provides the Council with a mechanism to manage risk whilst offering whistle-blowers protection from victimisation, harassment or disciplinary procedure.

From June 2013, whistle-blowers have been protected from suffering a detriment, bulling or harassment from another employee, whereas prior to this date, whistle-blowers who made qualifying disclosures were protected from adverse treatment only in relation to their employer’s activity.

1. Policy

1.1 The fundamental elements of the policy are -

1.2 Protection – all staff are protected from victimisation, harassment or disciplinary action as a result of any disclosure made provided the disclosure is not made maliciously or for personal gain. Untrue or malicious allegations will be dealt with severely and disciplinary action may be taken.

1.3 Anonymity – the identity of the whistle blower will be protected at all stages in any internal matter. Whilst the Council can provide internal anonymity, it cannot guarantee that this will be retained if external legal action flows from the disclosure. The Council is not accountable for maintaining anonymity where the whistle-blower has told others of the alleged misdemeanour.

1.4 Encouragement – the Council encourages those who suspect wrong-doing to report it wherever there are concerns.

2. Qualifying Disclosures

2.1 The policy applies to all disclosures deemed to be “qualifying disclosures”. A qualifying disclosure means any disclosure of information that, in the reasonable belief of the staff member, is made in the public interest.

2.2 This Policy is intended to cover concerns that fall outside the scope of other procedures. These include:

  • Conduct which is an offence or a breach of law
  • Disclosures related to miscarriages of justice
  • Health and safety risks including risks to the public as well as other employees
  • Damage to the environment
  • Fraud and corruption
  • Sexual; or physical abuse of clients
  • Any attempt to prevent disclosure of any of the above or other conduct that gives cause for concern.

2.3 From June 2013, a consequence of the new ‘public interest’ requirement is that staff will generally be precluded from being able to ‘blow the whistle’ about breaches of their own employment contract. Staff making such a complaint can still use the employer’s grievance procedure.

2.4 Disclosure of other wrongdoing is also covered by this policy where it is of general malpractice, gross misconduct, breach of the Council’s Constitution, breach of Audit Regulations or breach of the codes of conduct of all relevant professional institutions.

3. Procedure

3.1 Depending on the matter to be disclosed, the disclosure should always be reported confidentially in the first instance to one of the following -

  • The Fraud and Financial Investigations Team
  • Any Head of Service/member of the Management Team
  • Our Internal Auditors, Southern Internal Audit Partnership
  • Our External Auditors, Deloitte LLP

3.2 In order to deal with a disclosure, then the earlier a disclosure is made the easier it is to respond and to investigate.  The whistle-blower should make it clear that the disclosure is being made within the terms of this policy. This is so that the recipient realises and takes the necessary action both to initiate an investigation and to protect the identity of the individual.

3.3 Whilst the Council encourages whistle-blowers to identify themselves, it is recognised that anonymous calls may also be made, but these will also be taken seriously and fully investigated where possible. The National Audit Office (NAO) also operates a dedicated telephone number – 020 7798 7999, or can be contacted at their address -

The Comptroller and Auditor General

National Audit Office

157-197 Buckingham Palace Road

London SW1W 9SP

Qualifying disclosures may be made by phoning this number or writing to the address.

3.4 Any disclosure will be investigated fully, including interviews with witnesses and other parties involved.

3.5 The possible outcome may be -

  • Disciplinary and/or legal action against the wrongdoer if the result of the investigation corroborates the disclosure
  • No action if the allegation proves to be unfounded
  • Disciplinary action against the whistle-blower if the claim is found to be malicious or untrue

3.6 The Council will always keep the whistle blower informed of the progress and outcome of any investigation, within the constraints of maintaining confidentiality or observing legal restrictions.

3.7 Should the member of staff making the disclosure be unhappy with the manager investigating the allegation, action may be taken by way of the RBBC’S Fairness at Work Policy further details of this can be obtained from Human Resources or via the Council’s Intranet site (Working Here – My Employment-Grievance –Fairness at Work Policy).

3.8 These arrangements apply to disclosures to both the Council and an appropriate third party. Appropriate third parties are the Police, Tax Authority, or similar appropriate public regulator. Staff can also approach the independent group “Protect” for confidential and impartial advice, telephone number 020 7404 6609, www.protect-advice.org.uk

This document will be reviewed at least annually, and amendments will be agreed between the relevant Head of Service (for Fraud and Financial Investigations), and other appropriate Service Heads or Function Managers.

Version Number

Author

Purpose/change

Date

1-0

Simon Rosser

Full redraft following comments from SIAP

23/06/2020

1-1

 

Review due

June 2023