Agenda item

Confidential Reporting (Whistleblowing) Annual Report


The Executive Director Core Services submitted a report which was presented by the Head of Internal Audit, Anti-Fraud and Assurance reviewing the activities and current issues regarding the Council’s Confidential Reporting (Whistleblowing) Policy and supporting procedures.


The report outlined the background to the development of the policy, its review and revision to ensure that it remained fit for purpose, and indicated that this was one of a suite of policies and procedures whereby concerns could be raised.  As highlighted in previous reports, reference was made to the difficulties in speculating what would be an appropriate number of whistleblowing complaints to be received


During the last year there had been 8 instances of contact, 6 received via email/letter and 2 through direct contact with one of the Corporate Whistleblowing Officers.  Of those, 6 had been submitted anonymously which made investigations more difficult.


Information was provided about the way in which investigations were undertaken and a table within the report summarised the 8 issues raised, highlighted the nature of the concern and the action taken.  None of the closed cases raised any issues of great significance or concern to the Authority but one had resulted in disciplinary action being taken.  Two cases remained open, one would be considered as part of an Internal Audit review in due course and investigations were continuing in respect of the other case.


It was noted that the principles of confidential reporting were to be highlighted as part of the Fraud Awareness Week planned for later in the year and this would raise the profile of the responsibility and importance of all staff raising any concerns they had.


The Executive Director Core Services echoed the comments made and stressed that each complaint was taken very seriously.  He highlighted the importance of cross-referencing issues raised against the wider dashboard of information and intelligence held by the authority as this would enable any patterns of behaviour or items of concerns to be identified and addressed.


Questions were asked as to whether any of the anonymous issues raised were malicious or vexatious.  The Head of Internal Audit, Anti-Fraud and Assurance commented that this was always a key consideration in any investigation.  If there was any suggestion that this was the case this was taken into account in any response, but this did not mean that the issue was not worthy of investigation as it could present a concern that needed to be examined.  During an investigation other information or corroborative evidenced held by the authority would be sought.  If, however, an issue was found to be purely vexatious and malicious and the individual raising the issue was identified, then appropriate disciplinary action would be taken.


In response to a written question submitted in relation to the timeline between the receipt of a complaint and the closure it was reported that every issue raised was different and so there was no specific timescale that could be applied. The authority tried to ensure that any matter raised was looked into as quickly as possible but there were many factors that could mean an investigation took a number of weeks or months.




(i)            that the report and the assurance it provides be noted; and


(ii)          that the Committee commit to support the Council’s overall counter fraud culture and the work of Internal Audit and the Corporate Anti-Fraud Team.

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