Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure 2021 to 2022

Last updated: 1 June 2021

1. Introduction

1.1 What is the policy about?

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 protects employees and workers from reprisal, victimisation or harassment at work if they raise a concern that they reasonably believe is in the public interest.

Employees can sometimes be the first to realise that there may be something wrong with procedures and processes, or the conduct of others. However, they may not always express their concerns because they feel that speaking up would be disloyal to their colleagues or the council. They may also fear the threat of harassment or victimisation and in these circumstances, they may feel it easier to just ignore their concern rather than report.

“Whistleblowing” is the term used when an employee passes on information concerning wrongdoing. This is generally referred to as “making a disclosure” or “blowing the whistle”.

Whistleblowing law is located in the Employment Rights Act 1996 (as amended by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998).

The council is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, honesty, integrity and accountability. In line with that commitment we expect employees, and others we deal with, who have any serious concerns about any aspect of the council’s work to come forward and voice those concerns. Wherever possible, employees are encouraged to use relevant council procedures to report issues in an open and transparent way. However, it is recognised that some cases will have to proceed on a confidential basis.

This policy makes it clear that you can report concerns without fear of victimisation, subsequent discrimination or disadvantage. The Whistleblowing Policy is intended to encourage and enable employees to raise serious concerns within the council rather than overlooking a problem of “blowing the whistle” outside.

1.2 Who does the policy apply to?

This policy applies to all Buckinghamshire Council employees, and all workers including agency workers, consultants, self-employed workers, apprentices, trainees, contractors and volunteers. It also applies to organisations working in partnership with the Council.

These procedures are in addition to the council’s complaints procedures and other statutory reporting procedures applying to some services.

1.3 This policy aims to:

  • encourage you to feel confident in raising serious concerns and to question and act upon concerns about practice
  • provide avenues for you to raise those concerns and receive feedback (where appropriate) on any action taken
  • ensure that you receive a response to your concerns and that you are aware of how to pursue them is you are not satisfied
  • reassure you that you will be protected from possible reprisals or victimisation if you have reasonable belief that you have made any disclosure in the public interest

1.4 Scope of the policy

An employee who makes a disclosure under this policy must reasonably believe:

(i) that they are acting in the public interest

(ii) that the disclosure tends to show past, present or likely future wrongdoing falling into one or more of the following categories:

  • conduct which is an offence or breach of the law
  • health and safety risks, including risks to the public as well as employees and workers
  • damage to the environment
  • abuse of clients
  • safeguarding concerns relating to children, young people or adults with care and support needs
  • practice which falls below established standards of practice
  • unauthorised use of public funds
  • possible fraud, corruption or financial irregularity including unauthorised use of Council funds (see the Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy)
  • unauthorised disclosure of confidential information
  • unreasonable conduct resulting in unfair pressures on staff
  • any other unethical conduct
  • covering up information about anything listed above

The above list is neither exclusive nor exhaustive.

Thus, any serious concerns that you have, which are in the public interest, about any aspects of service provision or the conduct of officers or members of the council or others acting on behalf of the council can be reported under the Whistleblowing Policy.