1. Policy and Procedure Statement

Staff are often the first to realise that there may be something seriously wrong within their organisation. However, they may not express their concerns because they feel that speaking up would be disloyal to their colleagues or to their agency. They may also fear bullying, harassment or victimisation. In these circumstances it may be easier to ignore the concern rather than report what may be a suspicion of malpractice.

Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Safeguarding Children Partnership is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, professionalism and accountability. In line with that commitment we expect staff and volunteers, who have serious concerns about any aspect of their agency's work, to voice those concerns.

This document makes it clear that staff should be able to do so without fear of victimisation, subsequent discrimination or disadvantage. This Whistleblowing Policy is intended to encourage and enable staff to raise serious concerns within their agency rather than overlooking a problem or 'blowing the whistle' outside. Remember, a whistleblower is a witness, not a complainant.

This document applies to all Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Safeguarding Children Partnership agencies. Staff who wish to raise a concern within their own agency should follow their in-house procedure.

Staff in voluntary sector projects may wish to raise concerns with the chair, or other member, of the management committee if they feel unable to speak to their manager. However, for the purposes of this document, the term manager will be used throughout.

2. Harassment or Victimisation

Leicester LSCP and Leicestershire and Rutland LSCP agencies are committed to good practice and high standards and be supportive of staff who wish to report a concern. If a member of staff believes that what he/she is saying is true, they should have nothing to fear as he / she will be doing their duty to their employer and those for whom they are providing a service.

Bullying, harassment or victimisation (including informal pressures) by other members of staff towards someone who raises a concern, will not be tolerated by partner agencies. Senior management in agencies should take appropriate action to protect their staff or volunteers who raise a concern in good faith. Such retaliation could include, but is not limited to:

  • Frequent and undesirable changes in work assigned;
  • Unsubstantiated disciplinary action;
  • Unjust denial of promotion or transfer.

3. Confidentiality

All concerns should be treated in confidence and every effort will be made not to reveal the identity of a member of staff or volunteer if they so wish. At the appropriate time, however, they may need to be a witness, for instance if the matter leads to a disciplinary hearing or a criminal prosecution.

In some cases, confidentiality may not be possible, for example when reporting abuse or a criminal offence, as action may need to be taken. Staff should be consulted if it does become necessary to reveal their identity. If there is an unauthorised disclosure of someone's identity, disciplinary action may be taken against that individual.

4. Anonymous Allegations

Whenever possible, staff should be prepared to put their name to an allegation. Concerns expressed anonymously are much harder to investigate, but will be considered by senior managers in the organisation. In exercising this discretion the factors to be taken into account would include:

  • The seriousness of the issues raised;
  • The credibility of the concern; and
  • The likelihood of confirming the allegation from attributable sources.

5. Untrue Allegations

If employee member of staff or volunteer makes an allegation in good faith, but it is not confirmed by the investigation, no action should be taken against them. If, however, an employee makes an allegation frivolously, maliciously or for personal gain, disciplinary action may result.

6. Support for Employees

Agencies should offer support, either in-house or external, to staff or volunteers who raise concerns.

Whistleblowing Procedures for Staff

7. Information for Staff about how to Raise a Concern

You should raise this in the first instance with your line manager. In most cases, the matter will be dealt with at that stage. The earlier you raise your concern, the easier it will be to take action. REMEMBER, IF IN DOUBT, RAISE IT.

If you feel unable to raise the issue with your line manager, your concern relates to your line manager, or if your line manager does not take appropriate action to resolve the issue, you should approach your senior manager.

Staff in voluntary sector projects may need to raise concerns with the chair, or other member, of the management committee if concerns relate to their manager.

Sections 8 to 11 below provide further information about the procedure for responding to concerns raised by staff. Appendix 1: External Contacts provides external contacts for those who would like advice from outside of their organisation.

8. Managers

  • Have a responsibility to ensure that concerns are taken seriously;
  • Where appropriate, should investigate and make an objective assessment of the concern;
  • Should keep the employee advised of progress;
  • Have a responsibility to ensure that the action necessary to resolve a concern is taken.

There may be an existing procedure for you to follow which is specifically intended to address your specific area of concern and unless, in good faith, you feel unable to, you should follow the appropriate procedure. For example:

  • Work related grievance;
  • Bullying and harassment;
  • Equal opportunities;
  • Health and safety.

10. Internal Disclosures

Some organisations have Contact Persons, who you can speak to about concerns. Human Resources Department in your organisation should be able to advise you regarding this, or information may be available on your organisation's intranet.

11. How Agencies should Respond

Agencies should respond to any concern raised. How they respond may vary, for example depending on whether they are a public or voluntary sector agency. Where appropriate, the matters raised may:

  • Be investigated by management, internal audit, or through the disciplinary process;
  • Be investigated under another procedure, e.g. child / adult protection;
  • Be reported to the organisation's Standards or Management Committee;
  • Be referred to the Police;
  • Be referred to an external auditor;
  • Form the subject of an independent inquiry.

Within ten working days, you should receive, in writing:

  • An acknowledgment that the concern has been received;
  • Indication how the matter will be dealt with;
  • Where applicable, an estimate of how long it will take to provide a final response;
  • Information on staff support mechanisms;
  • Contact details of the person dealing with your concern (in some organisations this will be a Whistleblowing Contact).

If, during the investigation, you are concerned about what progress is being made, require support or reassurance, or feel you may be being victimised or harassed as a result of making the disclosure, you should contact your designated contact.

The designated contact will write to you to inform you of the outcome of your concern. However, this will not include details of any disciplinary action, which will remain confidential to the individual /s concerned.

12. Monitoring

Organisations should monitor concerns raised by whistleblowing, and take action accordingly. This includes reviewing these procedures.

Further Information

Protect - Speak up, stop harm - Free, confidential whistleblowing advice

NSPCC Whistleblowing Advice Line - Support for professionals who are worried about how child protection issues are being handled in their workplace.

Whistleblowing for Employees (GOV.UK)

Speak Up - Support for NHS and Social Care Employees and Managers

Raising Concerns with Ofsted about children's social care services: Policy and guidance for whistleblowers (GOV.UK)

Complain about a school (GOV.UK)

Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998

Appendix 1: External Contacts

External Contacts (and the matters they would deal with)

The Audit Commission

(proper conduct of public business, value for money, fraud and corruption in local government and health service bodies)

1st Floor, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London, SW1P 4HQ

Tel: (020) 7828 1212

Certification Officer

(fraud and other irregularities, relating to the financial affairs of trade unions and employers' associations)

Brandon House, 180 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1LW

Tel: (020) 7210 3734 / 3735

Charity Commission

(Administration of charities and of funds given or held for charitable purposes)

Charity Commission Direct, PO Box 1227, Liverpool, L69 3UG

Tel: 0845 3000 218

Criminal Cases Review Commission

(Actual or potential miscarriages of justice)

Alpha Tower, Suffolk Street, Queensway, Birmingham, B1 1TT

Tel: (0121) 633 1800

HM Customs and Excise

(VAT, insurance premium tax, excise duties, landfill tax, import and export of prohibited or restricted goods)

Customs Confidential, Freepost SEA 939, PO Box 100, Gravesend, Kent, DA12 2BR

Tel: (0800) 595000

Inland Revenue

(Other tax issues, national insurance, SSP, SMP)
Tel: 020 7667 4001

The Information Commissioner

(Compliance with data protection legislation)

The Office of the Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

Tel: (01625) 545745

The Environment Agency

(Acts or omissions which have an actual or potential effect on the environment)

Rio House, Waterside Drive, Aztec West, Almondsbury, Bristol, BS32 4UD

Tel: (0800) 807060

Health and Safety Executive

(Health and safety at work)

Marshall House, Ringway, Preston, PR1 2HS

Tel: (0541) 545500
Tel: (01772) 836 200

Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority

(Pension schemes)

Invicta House, Trafalgar Place, Brighton, BN1 4DW

Tel: (01273) 627600

Standards Board for England

(Allegations of breaches of members codes of conduct)

PO Box 36656, London, SE1 0WN

Tel: 0800 107 2001

Local Government Ombudsman

(Council maladministration)

Beverley House, 17 Shipton Rd, York, YO30 5FZ

Tel: 01904 633269
Social Work England  

One of the contacts listed above is likely to be relevant for your particular concern. If this is not the case, or you are unsure who to contact, Protect - 0207 404 6609 will be able to advise you.