Whistle Blowing Policy
WYMONDHAM TOWN COUNCIL
Whistle Blowing Policy
1.3 This procedure is intended to ensure that the Wymondham Town Council complies with its duty under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
2.1 This procedure applies to all employees, including volunteers and contractors.
2.2 This procedure does not replace other Wymondham Town Council policies or procedures.
2.3 This procedure applies to, but is not limited to, allegations about any of the following:
- Conduct which is an offence or breach of the law
- Alleged miscarriage of justice
- Serious Health and Safety risks
- The unauthorised use of public funds
- Possible fraud and corruption
- Sexual, physical or verbal abuse, or bullying or intimidation of employees, customers or service users
- Abuse of authority
- Other unethical conduct
- The seriousness of the issue raised
- The credibility of the allegation; and
- Whether the allegation can realistically be investigated from factors or sources other than the complainant
- The Clerk
- If the matter concerns the Clerk, to the Chairman (or in their absence the Vice Chairman), who will decide together and in consultation with a Committee Chairman
- The name of the person making the allegation and a contact point.
- The background and history of the allegation (giving relevant dates and names and positions of those who may be in a position to have contributed to the allegation);
- The specific reason for the allegation. Although someone making an allegation will not be expected to prove the truth of any allegations, they will need to provide information to the person they have reported to, to establish that that there are reasonable grounds for the allegation.
- The record of the allegation:
- The acknowledgement of the allegation;
- Any documents supplied by the whistle-blower
3.1 Contact Details for Reporting: (in writing) Town Clerk, Wymondham Town Council, Ketts Park, Harts Farm Road, Wymondham, NR18 0UT.
3.2 Wymondham Town Council recognises that the decision to make an allegation can be a difficult one to make. However, whistle-blowers who make serious allegations in the reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so have nothing to fear because they are doing their duty to the Council and to those for whom they are providing a service.
3.3 The Council will take appropriate action to protect a whistle-blower, who makes a serious allegation in the reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so, from any reprisals, harassment or victimisation.
4.1 All allegations will be treated in confidence and every effort will be made not to reveal a whistle-blower’s identity unless the whistle-blower otherwise requests. However, if the matter is subsequently dealt with through other procedures such as the Disciplinary Procedure, there might be a need to give evidence in order for a case to be successful.
4.2 Similarly, if the allegation results in court proceedings then the whistle-blower may have to give evidence in open court if the case is to be successful.
4.3 The Council will not, without the whistle-blower’s consent, disclose the identity of a whistle-blower to anyone other than a person involved in the investigation/allegation.
5. ANONYMOUS ALLEGATIONS
5.1 This procedure encourages whistle-blowers to put their name to an allegation wherever possible as anonymous allegations may often be difficult to substantiate or prove. Allegations made anonymously are much less powerful but anonymous allegations will be considered at the discretion of either the Clerk or if the matter is raised with the Chairman, they can decide together and in consultation with a Committee Chairman.
5.2 In exercising discretion to accept an anonymous allegation, the factors to be taken into account include:
6. UNTRUE ALLEGATIONS
6.1 No disciplinary or other action will be taken against a whistle-blower who makes an allegation in the reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so even if the allegation is not substantiated by an investigation. However, disciplinary action may be taken against a whistle-blower who makes an allegation without reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so (e.g. making an allegation frivolously, maliciously or for personal gain where there is no element of public interest).
7. PROCEDURE FOR MAKING AN ALLEGATION
7.1 It is preferable for allegations to be made to the Clerk, to whom there is currently direct reporting. However, circumstances vary, and this may depend on the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved and who is suspected of the malpractice. It might also be the case, in the future, that there are other line managers within the organisation to whom an employee reports; in such cases, if the whistle-blower believes that their manager is involved it would be inappropriate to raise it directly with them. The whistle-blower may then make an allegation direct to any of the following:
7.2 If the allegation relates to fraud, potential fraud or other financial irregularity the Responsible Financial Officer will be informed within 5 working days of receipt of the allegation, unless the alleged matter relates to their malpractice. They will then determine whether the allegation should be investigated and the method of investigation.
7.3 The recipient of an allegation shall ensure that it is referred appropriately for investigation where it is a relevant matter and following discussion with the whistle-blower to check that they wish to proceed with the allegation being investigated.
8.1 Whether a written or oral report is made it is important that relevant information is provided including:
8.2 Someone making an allegation may be accompanied by another person of their choosing during any meetings or interviews in connection with the allegation. However, if the matter is subsequently dealt with through another procedure the right to be accompanied will at that stage be in accordance with the relevant procedure.
8.3 Action on receipt of an allegation
8.3.1 The Clerk or other relevant recipient of the allegation will record details of the allegation gathering as much information as possible, (within 5 working days of receipt of the allegation) including:
8.3.2 The investigator will ask the whistle-blower for their preferred means of communication and contact details and use these for all communications with the whistle-blower in order to preserve confidentiality.
8.3.3 If the allegation discloses evidence of a criminal offence it will immediately be reported for the purpose of disciplinary or other procedures, as appropriate and a decision will be made as to whether to inform the Police. If the allegation concerns suspected harm to children, the appropriate authorities will be informed immediately.
8.3.4 If the issue is around suspected harm to vulnerable adults, appropriate advice should be sought and the matter dealt with lawfully, appropriately and sensitively.
The allegation will be acknowledged in writing within 10 working days with
- An indication of how the Council proposes to deal with the matter
- An estimate of how long it will take to provide a final response
- An indication of whether any initial enquiries have been made
- Information on whistle-blower support mechanisms
- Indication whether further investigations will take place and if not, why not
- The name and status (e.g. employee) of the whistle-blower
- The date on which the allegation was received
- The nature of the allegation
- Details of the person who received the allegation
- Whether the allegation is to be investigated and, if yes, by whom
- The outcome of the investigation
- Any other relevant details
Where the allegation has been made internally and anonymously, the Council will be unable to communicate what action has been taken.
8.5.1 The Council will take steps to minimise any difficulties which may be experienced as a result of making an allegation. For instance, if a whistle-blower is required to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings the Council will arrange for them to receive advice about the procedure and advise on the support mechanisms that are available.
8.5.2 The Council accepts that whistle-blowers need to be assured that the matter has been properly addressed. So, subject to legal constraints, the Council will inform those making allegations of the outcome of any investigation.
9. RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE PROCEDURE
9.1 The Council has overall responsibility for the operation of this procedure and for determining the administrative processes to be followed and the format of the records to be kept. Accordingly, this policy will be reviewed at least annually.
10.1 A register will record the following details:
10.2 The register will be confidential, and records shall be maintained appropriately by the Clerk.
10.3 The Clerk will report to the Councils Buildings, Health & Safety and Personnel working group on the operation of the procedure and on the whistle-blowing allegations made during the period covered by the report. The report will be in a form which does not identify whistle-blowers. The Chairman (or Vice Chairman) will report and ensure that an appropriate person maintains records where matters relate to the Clerk.
Wymondham Town Council Whistle Blowing Policy Adopted March 2022