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Council meetings

Agenda item

Council Review of Whistleblowing Referrals and Policy

Minutes:

The Head of Law/ Monitoring Officer, introduced the report and explained that

this is an annual report considered by the Committee and provides an

opportunity for members to note referrals made over the previous year and to

also consider and suggest any appropriate changes.

 

The Head of Law/Monitoring Officer provided the Committee with an update

on the referrals referred to at the last review but which had not been

concluded at that time. The initial three referrals related to referrals from a

school and whilst its’ procedures provide for referral to the Council in certain

circumstances as the Council is not the employer of staff at the school the

Monitoring Officer’s role is limited to advising the governing body. Any

decisions are ultimately a matter for them.

 

In the above cases the external investigator appointed found that there was

some cause for concern but not for the reasons complained of. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that there was a big overlap between the cases.

 

The other outstanding referral was in relation to a complaint received that a

Planning Committee meeting had been improperly conducted. On investigation the Whistleblowing Officer found that there had been no unfairness in the decision making process.  This conclusion had been relayed to the complainant. The complainant had also raised an issue in relation to an interest which ought to have been declared. The complainant however failed to provide any further information on a request for specific details from the Whistleblowing Officer.

 

The Head of Law/Monitoring Officer informed the Committee that there had been three further referrals since the last review. These referrals had all been concluded. In two of the cases the complainant decided not to pursue their referral. It was suggested that when the current policy is reviewed it refers specifically that the investigation of benefit fraud transferred along with the Council’s benefit fraud investigations to the Department of Works and Pensions.

 

There followed some discussion about the whistleblowing policy. There was an enquiry as to whether the Council’s processes were sufficiently robust that individuals felt prepared to make referrals under it. There was also an observation that there does not appear to be many complaints received about the central services of the Council. It was suggested that enhanced publicity and profile of the Whistleblowing Policy be considered at the annual review..

 

Members enquired as to the return of feedback questionnaires sent at the

conclusion of investigations and for an analysis to be undertaken of such

returns. The Head of Law confirmed that questionnaires are sometimes returned. However in the vast majority of cases they are not returned.  It was suggested that officers look at the design of the questionnaire as well as providing an analysis.

 

Members requested that the publicity for the Whistleblowing Policy be updated.

 

Members also suggested that it be reiterated that complaints can be made

through a number of channels.

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted and that officers take steps to update

and enhance the profile of the Whistleblowing Policy.

 

Supporting documents: