Agenda item

Confidential Reporting (Whistleblowing) Annual Report


The Executive Director Core Services submitted an annual report presenting the Committee with a review of the activities and current issues regarding the Council’s Confidential Reporting (Whistleblowing) Policy and supporting procedures.


The report outlined the background to the introduction and development of the policy and procedures which was part of a wider framework of how employees in particular could raise concerns.  It indicated that during the last 12 months there had been 2 instances of contact, one received via email/letter and one thought direct contact with one of the Corporate Whistleblowing Officers.  One of the concerns had been raised anonymously and the report outlined the nature of both concerns raised, the action taken and indicated that once case had been closed and one was ongoing.


Although there had only been 2 instances where these arrangements had been used there had been other matters raised directly with senior management both anonymously and with names provided.  In these cases, advice was sought from the Corporate Anti-Fraud Team, Internal Audit or from one of the Corporate Whistleblowing Officers.  In all cases the circumstances of the matter were considered in order to identify any opportunities for learning and particularly in the improvement of controls.


It was also reported that whilst not prompted by any particular issue, the confidential reporting arrangements were to be fundamentally reviewed over the next 12 months in order to strengthen the arrangements further as well as demonstrate transparency and openness to challenge.  This would incorporate the feasibility of utilising a specialist company that provided an external conduit that concerned employees could use to raise concerns, revised employee awareness training and subject to the first pointe, the revision of the policy and guidance and publicity


In the ensuing discussion, reference was made to the following:


·         Questions were asked as to whether issues were raised via a grievance rather than via the Whistleblowing arrangements.  The Head of Internal Audit, Anti-Fraud and Assurance stated that he had access to a recently developed HR Data Dashboard.  He would consult with HR colleagues in order to determine whether or not there were issues to pick up, however, he was not aware that there were any areas of concern in this respect.  The Executive Director Core Services felt that the Audit Committee would benefit from seeing this dashboard as it should give further assurance to Members that issues were not missed

·         The difficulties in speculating what would be an appropriate number of referrals thought the Whistleblowing arrangements was acknowledged.  Arising out of this, the way in which staff were continually informed of how they could raise issues of concern was outlined.  It was felt extremely unlikely that staff were not aware of the arrangements and the Head of Internal Audit, Anti-Fraud and Assurance took comfort from the fact that line managers could also raise concerns brought to their attention.

·         It was not felt that the fact that people had been working from home had had a significant impact on the number of referrals given that there had been 8 concerns raised in the previous reporting period when staff had also been working from home


RESOLVED that the report and the assurances it provides be noted and that the Committee continue to support the Council’s overall counter fraud culture and the work of Internal Audit and the Corporate Anti-Fraud Team.

Supporting documents: