The Council is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, probity and accountability. In line with that commitment we expect employees, and others that we deal with, who have serious concerns about any aspect of the Council's work to come forward and voice those concerns.
When an employee, contractor or Councillor raises concerns about the activities of the Council which are ethically or legally questionable, this is known as whistleblowing and is covered by the Council’s ‘Whistleblowing Policy’.
The Policy applies to all workers (employees, agency staff and trainees) working for the Council. It covers their activities and those provided by suppliers under a contract with the Council.
There are six types of wrongdoing that a whistleblower can report:
- criminal activity (including potential bribery, corruption, financial fraud or mismanagement);
- failure to comply with a legal obligation or requirement;
- dangers to health and safety;
- a miscarriage of justice;
- damage / likely damage to the environment;
- deliberate concealment of any of the above matters.
How to report a concern
If you have any concerns about the letting or management of a contract you can contact either:
- The Director of Legal and Community and Monitoring Officer – Tel: 01462 474370
- The Legal Commercial Team Manager and Deputy Monitoring Officer – Tel: 01462 474346
If you would like independent advice, you can contact the independent charity Protect. Their lawyers can give you free confidential advice at any stage on how to raise a concern about serious malpractice at work. You can call them on 020 3117 2520 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Council gives you its assurance that you will not suffer any form of retribution or detriment. The Council will treat your concern seriously and act according to its Whistleblowing Policy.
All organisations face the risk of things going wrong from time to time, or of unknowingly harbouring illegal or unethical conduct. A culture of openness and accountability is essential in order to prevent such situations occurring and to address them when they do occur. If the Council is informed about concerns at an early stage it stands a good chance of taking the necessary steps to safeguard the interests of the public, employees and the organisation. In short, please, do not hesitate to 'blow the whistle' about a concern of wrong doing when the Council lets a contract or when it is carried out.
The Council will decide how to respond, but this usually involves one of the following steps in accordance with the Whistleblowing Policy:
- Investigation by management or the Monitoring Officer (or Deputy Monitoring Officer), Shared Internal Audit Service ("SIAS") or Shared Anti-Fraud Service ("SAFS");
- Referral to the police;
- Referral to the external auditor.
So if you have any concerns about a Council contract, such as suspected fraud, modern slavery or other illegal activity, speak up.
Your privacy and confidentiality
You can make the report anonymously if you wish, in writing to the Monitoring Officer (at the Council’s Offices), but this may make it more difficult to investigate and report back to you.
If you ask for a matter to be treated in confidence the Council will respect your request and make every effort to keep your identity confidential. In some cases, however, it may be necessary to disclose details of your allegation to the Police or SIAS or SAFS or the external auditors, for example, where the matter is likely to result in criminal proceedings or where the Council has a statutory obligation to do so.
You should understand that if your personal evidence is necessary to prove the concern, then your identity may need to be revealed. The Monitoring Officer can discuss this with you.
As far as possible, the Council will keep you informed about the investigation and of the decisions taken, but it will not be able to tell you about matters which would infringe the duty of confidentiality owed to others or interfere with any potential prosecution or legal action that needs to be taken.
In terms of data protection, the relevant legislation does not impose an exact timeframe for retention of a whistleblower’s personal data. Storage periods may vary significantly and it is difficult to know exactly how long any complaint information will be required; however, to provide some certainty the Council shall retain personal data for six years or until the case is closed and the issue is resolved (whichever is the later date).
If, for whatever reason, you feel you cannot raise your concerns internally and you reasonably believe that they are true, you should consider raising the matter with Protect (contact details above). They may support you in referring the matter on to the Comptroller and Auditor General who leads the National Audit Office and is an officer of the House of Commons.