Agenda Item No 7

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Audit Committee: 31 January 2018

 

Report of the Monitoring Officer

 

Whistleblowing Policy - Performance Update

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To inform Audit Committee of actions undertaken to support the Whistleblowing Policy 2014
  2. To provide Audit Committee with a summary of Whistleblowing incidents recorded for 2016/17 and 2017/18 up until 31 December 2017.

Recommendations

That Audit Committee notes the content of this report

Reasons for the Recommendations

To apprise Committee of matters relating to the Council's Whistleblowing Policy.

Background

  1. The Council adopted the Whistleblowing Policy in March 2014.
  2. The purpose of the Policy is to ensure that employees of the Council are aware of their responsibility to the public and to protect individuals who may need to disclose information concerning any 'malpractice' within the Council, including any confidential information which relates to some danger, fraud or other illegal or unethical conduct connected with the workplace, be it of the employee or a fellow employee.
  3. The Policy and procedures apply to employees of the Vale of Glamorgan Council (excluding those employed at a school by a School Governing Body), temporary employees, trainees and independent contractors as well as those engaged through an external agency.
  4. The Policy confirms the standards expected from employees and sets out a framework within which staff can make a "protected disclosure" without fear that they will be subjected to victimisation or dismissal as long as the disclosure is made in the public interest in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 ('the Act').
  5. The Act identifies a "protected disclosure" can be made were a member of staff has a reasonable belief that in making the disclosure they can show one or more illegal practice, a failure to comply with legal obligation, the health and safety of an individual (member of public or staff) being endangered, damage to the environment, a miscarriage of justice and/or the deliberate concealment of any of these.
  6. The Operational Manager Customer Relations is responsible for the registration and maintenance of a central register of all Whistleblowing concerns and to monitor progress and outcomes of each investigation.
  7. Directors are responsible for the receipt and ensuring the proper recording of concerns on the Whistleblowing Central Register and for the effective operation of the policy within their own directorate. This includes ensuring that each employee is aware of the policy and how to use it, managers are effectively trained in the use of the policy and whistleblowing concerns are appropriately recorded and managed.
  8. The Audit Committee acting through the Monitoring Officer has within its terms of reference the overall responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the Whistleblowing Policy.
  9. The Whistleblowing Central Register is maintained on the Councils Oracle Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database and access to records is strictly controlled by user access permissions. The information in this report has been produced using CRM reporting functionality.  

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. Annual promotional activity to make employees aware of the Policy was undertaken in December 2017 under the promotional heading of "Whistleblowing - Your Responsibility". Promotional activity comprised of Staffnet content, email bulletins and a poster campaign to ensure both office and non-office based staff where engaged.
  2. During the period under review in this report, 3 concerns were raised in 2016/17 and 2 in 2017/18 up until 31 December 2017. In respect of the total number of concerns raised, 2 related to the Social Services Directorate, 2 to the Resources Directorate and 1 to the Environment and Housing Directorate. No concerns were raised relating to the Learning and Skills Directorate. Following investigations, none of the concerns raised were upheld.
  3. Of the 5 concerns reported 2 relate to concerns of illegal practices (fraud), 2 to potential breaches of health and safety and 1 to a concern about the failure to comply with legal obligations.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. There is a resource impact in relation to the investigation and resolution of concerns raised under the policy. The impact is borne by individual directorates and the Internal Audit Service. Investigations are normally undertaken by employees of the Council however in one instance an independent investigation by an outside body was instigated. These costs are met within existing budgets

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. Effective delivery of the policy assists the Council to achieve good governance.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The Policy ensures that the Council adheres to its obligations under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (as amended)

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. The Policy helps ensure that crime committed by Council employees can be detected and addressed.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. All Council employees are able to access the Policy and helps ensure that Council services are delivered fairly and equitably.

Corporate/Service Objectives

Contributes to Wellbeing Objective of creating an Inclusive and Safe Vale.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. There are no matters in this report which relate to an individual ward.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Corporate Resources and Performance

Background Papers

Whistleblowing performance summary (appendix A)

Contact Officer

Tony Curliss

Officers Consulted

Head of Performance and Development

Operational Manager  - Audit

Customer Complaints Officer

Responsible Officer:

Monitoring Officer