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1.4.2 Whistle Blowing

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Purpose of the Policy
  3. Safeguards
  4. How to Raise a Concern
  5. How the Council will Respond
  6. The Responsible Officer
  7. External Contacts


1. Introduction

All employees at one time or another have concerns about what is happening at work. Usually these concerns are easily resolved. However, when they are about unlawful conduct, financial malpractice, health and safety risks to the public or to other employees, damage to the environment, possible fraud or corruption, sexual or Physical Abuse of clients or any other unethical conduct, it can be difficult to know what to do.

You may be worried about raising such issues or may want to keep the concerns to yourself, perhaps feeling it's none of your business or that it's only a suspicion. You may feel that raising the matter would be disloyal to colleagues, managers or to the Council. You may decide to say something but find that you have spoken to the wrong person or raised the issue in the wrong way and are not sure what to do next. You may also fear that you could be harassed or victimised.

The Council is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, probity and accountability. It expects that its employees who have serious concerns about anything that is happening in the Council to come forward and raise those concerns. The Council, however, recognises that Employees need to be supported and have confidence that any concerns will be treated appropriately. The purpose of this Policy is to enable you to raise your concerns about such malpractice at an early stage and in the right way. The Council would rather that you raised the matter when it is just a concern rather than wait for proof.

The Policy is intended to apply not only to employees but also to contractors working for the Council on Council premises. It also covers suppliers and those providing services under a contract with the Council in their own premises, for example care homes.

This Policy is primarily for concerns where the interests of others or of the organisation itself are at risk. If you have concern about your employment with the Council this should be raised through the Council's Grievance Procedure. The Council also has policies to cover the situation where you personally are the victim of bullying or harassment.

If in doubt - raise it!


2. Purpose of the Policy

  1. The Policy aims to encourage staff and others to feel confident in raising serious concerns by providing clear avenues through which those concerns can be raised and reassuring staff who raise concerns that they will not be victimised if they have a reasonable belief and the disclosure was made in good faith.
  2. The Policy will ensure that staff and others who raise concerns receive a response and are informed about how their concerns are being dealt with.


3. Safeguards

  1. The Council is committed to good practice and high standards and wants to be supportive of employees. The Council recognises that the decision to report a concern can be a difficult one to make. If you raise a genuine concern under this policy you should have nothing to fear because you will be doing your duty to your employer and those for whom you are providing a service.
  2. The Council will not tolerate any harassment or victimisation (including informal pressures) and will take appropriate action to protect you when you raise a concern in good faith.
  3. Any investigation into allegations of potential malpractice will not influence or be influenced by any disciplinary or redundancy procedures that already affect you.
  4. All concerns will be treated in confidence and every effort will be made not to reveal your identity if you so wish. At the appropriate time, however you may need to come forward as a witness.
  5. You should, whenever possible, put your name to your allegation as concerns expressed anonymously are much less powerful. The Council will exercise discretion in considering anonymous allegations if the issue raised is sufficiently serious, e.g. involving individual or public safety or corruption, waste or other impropriety, and credible and there is a likelihood of confirming the allegation from other sources.
  6. If you make an allegation in good faith but it is not confirmed by the investigation, no action will be taken against you. If, however, you make an allegation frivolously, maliciously or for personal gain, disciplinary action may be taken against you.


4. How to Raise a Concern

  1. It is normally expected that concerns will be raised in the first instance with your immediate line manager or your Head of Department. However if the matter is of an extremely sensitive or serious nature or you believe management to be involved you should approach one of the following:

    The Monitoring Officer - Cathy Thomas 01895 250617

    The Chief Financial Officer - Janice Maule 01895 250559

    Head of Committee Services - David Brough 01895 250636

    The Chief Executive - Dorian Leatham 01895 250569

    These officers will also be able to provide you with advice/guidance on how to pursue matters of concern.
  2. Concerns may be raised verbally or in writing. If you wish to make a written report it is suggested that you include the background and history of the concern with relevant dates and the reason why you are particularly concerned about the situation.
  3. You will need to demonstrate to the person contacted that there are reasonable grounds for your concern.
  4. You may be accompanied at any meetings or interviews in connection with the concerns you have raised by your trade union or other representative or a friend.


5. How the Council will Respond

  1. Once you have raised your concern, it will be looked into to assess initially what action should be taken.
  2. As appropriate, matters raised may:

    be investigated by management, the Monitoring Officer, internal audit, through the disciplinary process or referred for investigation through the Council's Standards Committee where the complaint is about the misconduct of Councillors.

    be referred to the police

    be referred to the external auditor

    form the subject of an independent investigation
  3. In deciding how to deal with the concern raised the overriding principle which the Council will have in mind is the public interest. Concerns or allegations which fall within the scope of specific procedures e.g. child protection, will normally be referred for consideration under those procedures. Some concerns may be resolved by agreed action without the need for investigation. If urgent action is required this will be taken before any investigation is conducted.
  4. Within ten working days of a concern being raised, the person with whom you have raised the concern will write to you acknowledging that the concern has been received and indicating how the Council proposes to deal with the matter. If there is an ongoing investigation the person responsible for that investigation will provide you with updates on how the matter is progressing and inform you of the outcome of the investigation subject to any legal constraints.
  5. The Council will take steps to minimise any difficulties which you may experience as a result of raising a concern. For instance, if you are required to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings the Council will arrange for you to receive advice about the procedure and any support and counselling you may require.


6. The Responsible Officer

The Monitoring Officer has overall responsibility for the maintenance and operation of this Policy. That officer maintains a record of concerns raised and the outcomes, in a form, which does not endanger your confidentiality, and will report as necessary to the Council.


7. External contacts

While the Council hopes this Policy gives you the reassurance you need to raise such matters internally, it recognises that there may be circumstances where you can properly report matters to outside bodies, such as the District Auditor or the police. Your Union or Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to advise you on such an option and on the circumstances in which you may be able to contact an outside body safely.

Issued by: Cathy Thomas, Corporate Legal
Source: Standards Committee
Effective: 22.6.99
Contacts: Raj Alagh - Borough Solicitor

End