East Devon District Council

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Policy Whistleblowing policy

Show all parts of this policy

4. Procedure

Background

As a first step, you should normally raise concerns with your immediate manager or their superior. This depends, however, on the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved and who is thought to be involved in the malpractice. If you prefer (for whatever reason) or if you believe that management is involved, you could approach one of the individuals listed below.

The earlier you express the concern, the easier it is to take action. You should not wait until you have proof. Although you are not expected to prove the truth of the allegation, you will need to demonstrate to the person contacted that there are grounds for your concern.

If an employee has any personal interest in the matter this should be disclosed at the outset.

If you do have a concern, whether as a member of staff or a member of the public, and however small, where you don’t feel comfortable discussing such a sensitive issue with a close colleague or other officers within the Council, you can discuss the matter with any of the following:

Henry Gordon Lennox, Monitoring Officer
hgordonlennox@eastdevon.gov.uk
01395 517401
Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL

Anita Williams, Deputy Monitoring Officer
alwilliams@eastdevon.gov.uk
01395 571556
Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL

Simon Davey, Section 151 Officer
sdavey@eastdevon.gov.uk
01395 517490
Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL

Karen Jenkins, Strategic Lead (Organisational Development)
kjenkins@eastdevon.gov.uk
01395 517562
Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL

Jo George, Assistant Director  for the South West Audit Partnership (SWAP)
jo.george@southwestaudit.co.uk
07720312466
Yeovil Innovation Centre, Barracks Close, Copse Road, Yeovil Somerset BA22 8RN.

Alternatively, you may contact the East Devon District Council Fraud Line number which is 01395 517494.

An informal approach to any of these officers will be treated as completely confidential and will not result in any report to anyone within the Council unless you agree.

In the event that you are unsure whether you should raise an issue under this policy or you need advice, free confidential advice is available from Public Concern at Work (0207 404 6609), a charity with the objective of promoting compliance with the law and good practice.

Process

Initial concerns may be raised orally or in writing, although normally it is preferable to put your concern in writing. You are invited to set out the background and history of the concern, giving names, dates and places where possible, and the reason why you are particularly concerned about the situation. There is an example report form in Appendix 3 of this Policy which you are encouraged to use to formally report a concern.

In order to protect the individual and the Council, an initial investigation will be carried out to decide whether a full investigation is appropriate and, if so, what form it should take. The initial investigation may be carried out internally or the Council may ask another body (e.g. SWAP) to carry it out. Concerns or allegations, which fall within the scope of specific Policies (for example fraud, theft and corruption) will normally be referred for consideration under the procedures in those Policies.

Following the initial investigation, it may be that some concerns can be resolved by agreed action without the need for a full investigation.  If urgent action is required, this would be taken before any full investigation is completed.

Within ten working days of a concern being raised, and following the initial investigation, the Monitoring Officer will write to the person raising the concern;

  • acknowledging that the concern has been received,
  • indicating the initial findings and how he/she proposes to deal with the matter; and
  • giving an estimate of how long it will take to provide a final response.

If it is impossible for the initial investigation to be completed within ten working days, or where urgent action is required, the situation will be explained in the letter of acknowledgement.  Where a decision is made that a full investigation will take place, the reasons for this will be provided.

If a full investigation is required this will be carried out by the Council internally or the Council may ask another body (e.g. SWAP) to carry it out. Following the full investigation the Council will either resolve by agreed action or take appropriate further action. This further action could be:

Agreed steps such as disciplinary process,

  • Referral to the Police,
  • An independent enquiry

The amount of contact between the officers considering the issues and the employee raising the concern will depend on the nature of the matters raised, the potential difficulties involved and the clarity of the information provided. If necessary, further information may be sought from the person raising the concern. Notwithstanding the initial acknowledgement, you will be kept informed of the progress and outcome of the action and reasons for any decisions, subject to any legal constraints there may be.

The Council will take appropriate steps to minimise any difficulties, which an employee may experience as a result of raising a concern. For example, if employees are required to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings, the Council will need to inform them and consider what steps are required to provide support.

The Council recognises that there may be matters that cannot be dealt with internally and external authorities will need to become involved.  Where this is necessary the Council reserves the right to make such a referral without your consent.

Further steps

This Policy is intended to provide you with an avenue to raise concerns within the Council. The Council hopes you will be satisfied with any action taken.  If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your confidential allegation you can write to the Chief Executive and ask for the investigation and outcome to be reviewed.  If you remain dissatisfied and you feel it is right to take the matter outside the Council, you may wish to take advice from your trade union, your local Citizens Advice Bureau, any of the external agencies listed below, or your legal advisor on the options that are available to you.

Another option is that you may wish to rely on your rights under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.  This Act gives you protection from victimisation if you make certain disclosures of information in the public interest.  The provisions are quite complex and include a list of prescribed persons outside of the Council who can be contacted in certain circumstances.  You should seek advice on the effect of the Act from the Monitoring Officer.

If you do take the matter outside the Council, you need to ensure that you do not disclose information where you owe a duty of confidentiality to persons other than the Council (e.g. service users) or where you would commit an offence by making such disclosures.  This is something that you would need to check with one of the officers mentioned above.

External Contacts

If for any reason you do not wish to use the internal arrangements set out above, or require additional support and advice, a list of some of the prescribed people and bodies to whom you can make a disclosure and whose functions have particular relevance to councils work are given below.