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12 incidents have been reported under the Council’s whistleblowing policy in the past three years, a report has revealed.

In a report due to go before the Standards Committee on Thursday, it is revealed that there has been a total of 12 whisteblowing ‘concerns’ since 2012.

Five of these cases took place in 2012, while in 2013 there were seven cases of whistleblowing. There have been no concerns notified under the policy in 2014.

The Council’s whistleblowing policy (which can be found here on the Council website) contains a requirement that: “The Monitoring Officer bring a report to the Standards Committee at least once a year on the operation of the Policy and any changes in practice introduced as a result of concerns raised under the Policy.”

Of the 12 reported incidents, only one member of staff has resigned from their job. This was in 2013 when an ‘internal audit investigation at a school’, which began at the start of the school holidays.

The most recently noted cause took place in November of last year, when a letter was sent to the Monitoring Officer of Adult Social Care.

Within the table it shows that three separate issues arose from the complaint, however the conclusion showed that ‘concerns were unfounded in the main, however there have been areas where best practice can be established and implemented’.

The report notes that there is ‘no pattern of concerns being raised in any individual apartment’ and that each concern ‘relates to a different issue and Department of the Council’. The report goes on to add that: “The nature of the concerns raised is varied and there does not appear to be any common theme linking the issues to cause significant corporate concerns.”

A full breakdown of the concerns raised over the past three years can be found listed below.

Year
Department
Officer passed to for Initial investigation
Outcome of Investigation
2012Environment

Anonymous letter received in the post by Head of Corporate and Customer Services from 5 members of staff from Environment
Head of Corporate and
Customer Services
No evidence to suggest any impropriety
2012Adult Social Care

E-mail from member of staff to Monitoring Officer
Monitoring Officer
passed complaint
to HR Business
Partner
Independent Investigation being carried out by external
investigator. Interviews
carried out with
whistleblower, witness and management of the Community Living Service.

Areas of concern were
identified and an action plan was implemented.
2012Adult Social Care

Member of staff made
appointment to come in to see Monitoring Officer
Head of Corporate and
Customer Services
Interview with whistleblower taken place.

Managing Attendance Policy looked at and advice sought from HR Service Manager.

No evidence of misuse of Policy but HCCS to make representations to those concerned on handling of situation
2012Community Well-Being and Development Department

E-mail from Union Official received by HCCS on behalf of Whistleblower
Audit and
Technical Manager

HR Manager
Council already aware of incident and initial
investigations already carried out.

Perpetrator no longer a
Council employee and
therefore disciplinary
proceedings can no longer be instigated. Disciplinary action was taken by new employer
2012 Housing and Public Protection Department

Anonymous letter addressed
to the Chief Executive by
Council employee
Audit and Technical
Manager
Interview undertaken.

No evidence to support
allegation and therefore unproven.

Some non-compliance with Financial Regulations identified as a result of investigation and this is being dealt with as a separate issue
2013Corporate – HODs

Anonymous letter addressed to the Chief Executive by Council employee
Audit and Technical
Manager
As allegation anonymous Audit unable to make further
enquiries.

No evidence to support
allegation and investigation closed.
2013Lifelong Learning

Anonymous phone call to HR officer
Audit and Technical
Manager
Head of Education
Infrastructure met with
Headteacher.

Audit due at school on 17 September 2013.

The audit identified issues of non-compliance with the
Code of Conduct. The Chair of Governors was advised and a completed action plan
was received.
2013Assets and Economic
Development

Whistleblower telephoned
member of Audit team via
“stamp out Fraud” – 4/8/13
Audit and Technical
Manager
Initial enquiries undertaken. No formal investigation
taken.

Requirement to increase awareness of the Employee Code of Conduct to all staff. A revised Audit Bulletin published.

Whistleblower notified.
2013Lifelong Learning

Headteacher and Chair of Governor met with HR Officer – 19/7/13
Audit and Technical
Manager
Allegation discussed with Head of Service

Case discussed. Conclusion reached that there was
nothing much to be gained from looking any further into
allegation. No case to
answer
2013Children and Young People

E-mail received via “Stamp
Out Fraud”
Internal Audit
Allegation discussed with Head of Service

Case discussed. Conclusion reached that there was
nothing much to be gained from looking any further into
allegation. No case to
answer.
2013Environment Department

E-mail sent to Chief
Executive and Head of
Environment – 2 November
2013
Paul Tharme
Audit and
Technical
Manager

Passed to Health
and Safety Officer
Action required to review completion of records/PPE
procedures.

Allegation relating to use of substances was investigated but no evidence found,
therefore no action was
taken
2013Adult Social Care

Letter sent to monitoring
Officer on 4 November 2013
Paul Tharme Audit and
Technical Manager
Three issues arose from complaint:

1 Service User treatment
2 Culture/management
issues
3 Employment contract
issues

All areas were investigated.

The conclusion has been that concerns were unfounded in
the main however there have been areas where best
practice can be established and implemented and
existing practices improved upon. These actions plans are being developed with the
department and will be
reviewed in order to make sure they are completed and followed up

A full copy of the report and a breakdown of the whistleblowing concerns can be found on the Council’s website here.