The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) is committed to the highest standards of openness and accountability and takes malpractice seriously. All workers have a right and a duty to report concerns of malpractice that are in the public interest. This policy defines the framework for reporting and investigating whistleblowing concerns.
version 1.3 August 2018
All employees of the OPCC. This policy also applies to all workers including agency staff, contractors and suppliers of services.
The aims of this policy are to:
- provide a mechanism for raising concerns believed to be in the public interest
- ensure that concerns are investigated promptly, thoroughly and effectively
- enable critical information to be shared appropriately
- ensure that a worker who raises a genuine concern is not victimised
- ensure that concerns raised are taken seriously and dealt with proportionally
- minimise external disclosures by encouraging a worker to report malpractice concerns internally
- ensure compliance with legal obligations
- improve trust and confidence and create a culture of honesty and openness
- maintain the OPCC’s reputation
Check which policy to use
Check which policy to use Concerns relating to an employee’s own working situation should be addressed using the Resolving Workplace Issues Policy.
Complaints about the quality of service delivery should be addressed using the Complaints, misconduct and appeals policy and procedures.
Whistleblowing is ‘making a disclosure in the public interest’ and occurs when a worker raises a concern about a danger, illegality or malpractice that affects others, for example members of the public.
For the purposes of this policy a worker is defined as an employee, temporary member of staff, agency staff, contractor and suppliers of services.
What the law says
The legislative framework for this policy is the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA), incorporated into the Employment Rights Act 1996, and amended by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.
The PIDA gives protection from detrimental treatment of workers who disclose reasonable concerns about serious misconduct or malpractice at work. Under the PIDA, workers are protected from detrimental treatment from another employee if their disclosure qualifies as a ‘protected disclosure’. In order to ensure they qualify for protection, the worker should follow a set procedure, as detailed in the Employee How to Guide.
The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) 2016 and the Data Protection Act 2018 aim to protect the rights of living individuals regarding information about them held by other people.
The standards expected of all employees are set out in the College of Policing Code of Ethics, policies and local procedures and guidance.
Concerns of a child or vulnerable adult being at risk of harm must be reported immediately using the Multi-agency system for complainants of concern.
Making a disclosure
A worker who has a whistleblowing concern should report it to their line manager or senior manager verbally or in writing in the first instance and at the earliest opportunity.
The following principles apply:
- all employees have a duty of confidentiality to the OPCC
- the confidentiality of a worker who raises a concern is respected as far as possible
- the worker is encouraged to give their name as anonymous concerns are much less powerful and are more difficult to investigate
- there will be no adverse consequences for a worker who raises a genuinely-held concern
- victimisation and/or deterring a worker from raising legitimate concerns constitutes serious misconduct and will be addressed using the Managing Misconduct policy
- concerns raised frivolously, maliciously, for personal gain, or where they are known to be untrue, constitute serious misconduct and will be addressed using the Managing Misconduct policy and may result in disciplinary action; for agency staff, termination of the agency contract.
Responding to a disclosure
The manager must assess the nature and seriousness of the concern and respond appropriately and proportionately.
If a concern is raised anonymously, the manager must decide, based on the seriousness of the issue, whether to investigate it further.
An investigation which is proportionate to the concern that is raised is undertaken and completed.
If urgent action is required, such as a referral to the Police, this takes place before an investigation starts.
The investigation is completed as promptly as possible, however it is not always possible to provide an exact timescale at the start of an investigation due to the varied nature of whistleblowing concerns.
The worker who raised the concern is kept informed during the investigation as appropriate.
Outcome of the investigation
The outcome(s) of the investigation is:
- shared with the worker who raised the concern (subject to legal and confidentiality constraints)
- referred to the appropriate manager or department to progress any actions that may be required
- reviewed to ensure that the actions taken have resolved the original concern.
Making a disclosure externally
A worker should only raise a concern externally in the following situations:
- the concern has been raised internally but the worker believes the issue remains unresolved
- the worker believes that they have been or will be placed in a vulnerable position by raising the concern
In these situations, the worker may wish to raise the concern externally to contacts such as:
- the Commissioner
- Public Concern at Work
- those listed on the Department for Business Innovation & Skills list of prescribed persons and bodies
- the Police
Details of all whistleblowing concerns and investigations are retained for 6 years plus the current year from the close of the case, except where separate retention rules apply, e.g. child protection records.
Examples of malpractice
Examples of the types of malpractice that could be disclosed under the policy are:
- fraud or corruption
- financial irregularities
- unauthorised use of public funds
- the physical, emotional or sexual abuse of clients
- deficiencies in the care of vulnerable people
- serious breaches of professional codes of conduct/ practice
- failure to comply with a legal obligation
- risks to health and safety
- environmental damage
- a criminal offence
- failure to follow financial and contractual procedure rules
- showing undue favour to a contractor or a job applicant
- miscarriages of justice
- deliberate concealment of information relating to any of the above
- other dangers or illegalities which may affect clients, members of the public or the OPCC.
To help with the application of this policy it may be useful to read the following:
- Employees’ How to Guide – Whistleblowing
- Managers’ How to Guide – Whistleblowing
- Managing Misconduct policy
- College of Policing Code of Ethics
Further information is available in the Employees’ How to Guide – Whistleblowing.
Queries relating to this policy should be directed to your line manager.
A confidential Employee Support service is available on freephone 0800 030 5182 (or 0161 836 9498 if calling from a mobile) at any time. Further information is available at http://www3.hants.gov.uk/employee-support
Public Concern at Work are a registered charity whose services are free and confidential, they may be contacted on 020 7404 6609 or via www.pcaw.org.uk
Further information is available in the Managers’ How to Guide – Whistleblowing.
Advice on remaining queries can be directed to HR Operations on 01962 813915
Employees of non-Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner customers are excluded from this policy and should refer to their own employer’s policies and procedures.