AMENDMENTIn September 2016, a link was added to Whistleblowing to Ofsted about Children's Social Care Services - Policy and Guidance for Whistleblowers. This document outlines what Ofsted will do when it receives certain concerns about Children's Social Care services from a whistleblower.
KCC is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, probity and accountability and we encourage employees and others working with us to raise any concerns about any aspect of our work to come forward and voice those concerns. In some instances, concerns may need to be expressed on a confidential basis.
The Whistlebowing Policy encourages employees to raise serious concerns, without fear of reprisal or victimisation, internally within KCC rather than over-looking a problem or raising the matter outside.
2. Other Complaints Procedures
The Whistleblowing Procedure is separate from KCC's Complaints Procedures and other statutory reporting procedures applying to some directorates. Managers are responsible for making service users aware of these procedures.
Any investigation into allegations of potential malpractice under this procedure will not influence or be influenced by any disciplinary or redundancy procedures that already affects an individual.
3. Aim and Scope
KCC's approach to whistleblowing aims to ensure individuals are:
- Encouraged to feel confident in raising serious concerns and to question and act upon concerns about practice;
- Provided with avenues to raise concerns and receive feedback on any action taken;
- Given a response to their concerns and are aware of how to pursue them if not satisfied with the outcome;
- Reassured that they will be protected from reprisals or victimisation if they have a reasonable belief any disclosure.
Employees are able to use the Resolution Procedure to raise concerns relating to their own employment including issues relating to harassment and bullying.
The Whistleblowing Policy applies to all employees, agency workers and those contractors working on KCC premises, for example, cleaners, builders and drivers. It also covers suppliers and those providing services under a contract with KCC in their own premises.Matters that are covered by the Whistleblowing Policy include:
- Conduct which is, has been or is likely to be an offence or breach of law;
- Conduct that has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur the result of which KCC fails to comply with a legal obligation. For example unauthorised use of public funds, possible fraud and corruption, Sexual or Physical Abuse of clients, or other unethical conduct discrimination of any kind and waste/frivolous expenditure;
- Disclosures related to past, current or likely miscarriages of justice;
- Past, current or likely health and safety risks, including risks to the public as well as other employees (see below);
- Past, current or likely damage to the environment;
- Concerns about any aspect of service provision;
- Other concerns regarding the conduct (including breaches of known standards or KCC's Standing Orders) of officers or KCC Members or others acting on behalf of the KCC.
KCC's Safety Complaints Procedure should be used to raise any issues, concerns or complaints of a health and safety nature and which are not confidential.
All concerns raised will be treated in confidence and every effort will be made not to reveal your identity if this is your wish. However, in certain cases, it may not be possible to maintain confidentiality if you are required to come forward as a witness.
5. Anonymous Allegations
Whenever possible you should put your name to your allegation as concerns expressed anonymously are much less powerful that those that are attributed to a named individual. However anonymous allegations will be considered and investigated at KCC's discretion.
In exercising the 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.
6. Untrue Allegations
Disciplinary action will only be taken against individuals who knowingly make false, malicious or vexatious allegations.
7. How to Raise a Concern
Concerns can be raised verbally or in writing. A concern raised in writing should:
- Set out the background and history of the concern, giving names, dates and places where possible;
- Give the reason why you are particularly concerned about the situation.
The earlier a concern is raised the easier it is to take action. Although you are not expected to prove beyond doubt the truth of an allegation, you need to demonstrate to the person contacted that there are sufficient grounds for your concern.
Step One - Raising a Concern
Whenever possible you should raise your concern with your immediate manager or his/her manager. If this is not appropriate, there is a named contact in each of the Directorates who you will be call or e-mail. Details of the Directorate contacts are included in the Whistleblowing information in Chapter D of the Kent Scheme Terms & Conditions of Employment which is available on kent.gov.uk.
KCC has an Anti Fraud and Corruption Policy Statement and all suspected financial irregularities must be reported to the Head of Internal Audit.
Step Two - How KCC will respond
The action KCC takes will depend on the nature of the concern. The matters raised may:
- Be investigated internally by management, Internal Audit or through the disciplinary or other internal process;
- Be referred to the Police;
- Be referred to the External Auditor;
- Form the subject of an independent inquiry.
In order to protect individuals and KCC, initial enquiries will be made to decide whether an investigation is appropriate and, if so, what form it should take. Concerns or allegations which fall within the scope of specific procedures (e.g. child protection or discrimination issues) will normally be referred for consideration under those procedures.
Some concerns may be resolved by agreed action without the need for investigation. If urgent action is required this will be taken before any investigation is conducted.
You will be written to within ten working days:
- Acknowledging that the concern has been received;
- Indicating how KCC proposes to deal with the matter;
- Giving an estimate of how long it will take to provide a final response;
- Informing you if any initial enquiries have been made;
- Whether further investigations will take place and, if not, why not.
The amount of contact between the officers considering the issues and you will depend on the nature of the matters raised, the potential difficulties involved and the clarity of the information provided. If necessary, further information will be sought.
When any meeting is arranged you have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or a workplace colleague who is not involved in the area of work to which the concern relates.
KCC will take steps to minimise any difficulties you may experience as a result of raising a concern. For instance, if you are required to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings, KCC will advise or arrange for you to have advice about the procedure.
KCC will not tolerate harassment or victimisation (including informal pressures) and will take action to protect individuals who raise a concern in good faith.
KCC accepts that you need to be assured that concerns will be properly addressed and, subject to legal constraints, will provide information about the outcomes of any investigations.
How the Matter can be taken Further
This procedure is intended to provide individuals with an avenue to raise concerns within KCC. If you are not satisfied, and feel it is right to take the matter further, the following are possible contact points:
- Public Concern at Work (Tel: 020 7404 6609);
- Audit Commission (Tel: 020 7630 1019);
- A local Kent County Council member;
- Relevant professional bodies or regulatory organisations;
- A solicitor;
- The Police.
If a matter is taken outside KCC, you must take all reasonable steps to ensure that confidential or privileged information is not disclosed. If in doubt, check with the named KCC contacts.
Public Interest Disclosure
Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 gives employees two safeguards in respect of disclosures of information.
- An employee is entitled not be subjected to any detriment by virtue of having made a protected disclosure;
- The dismissal of any KCC employee directly due to the individual having made such a disclosure will automatically be unfair.
This document is available in other formats. Call 01622 694778 or email Employment Policy Queries for further details.
For alternative languages call 08458 247 247 this service can help you get information about KCC services or publications in your language. An English-speaking operator will take details of your requirements and arrange a translation or interpreting service. You may need an English-speaking friend or a family member to help you with this.
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