1.1 This policy seeks to provide a process that gives anyone with a concern about the council the confidence to bring that concern to our attention.
1.2 Norwich City Council operates within legal requirements and regulations and expects its employees to co-operate in this by adhering to all laws, regulations, policies and procedures. Any employee becoming aware of inappropriate conduct is obliged and encouraged to report this activity. This policy also applies to other individuals performing functions in relation to the council such as contractors, consultants, partners and agency workers and other stakeholders including councillors.
1.3 Employees are often the first to realise that there may be something seriously wrong within the council. However, they may not express their concerns because they feel that speaking up would be disloyal to their colleagues or to the council. Councillors, customers and stakeholders are also in a position to identify concerns that affect council services and need to be addressed.
1.4 The law provides protection for workers who raise legitimate concerns about specified matters. These are called ‘qualifying disclosures’. A qualifying disclosure is one made in the public interest by a worker who has a reasonable belief that the following is being committed or is likely to be committed:
- a criminal offence
- a miscarriage of justice
- an act creating risk to health and safety
- an act causing damage to the environment
- a breach of any other legal obligation
- concealment of any of the above
1.5 It is not necessary for the worker to have proof that such an act has been, or is likely to be committed – a reasonable belief is sufficient. The worker has no responsibility for investigating the matter
1.6 Individuals with a concern may fear that they will be victimised or harassed if they raise the concern. In these circumstances it may feel easier to ignore the concern rather than report what may be a suspicion of malpractice. A worker who makes a protected disclosure has the right not to be dismissed, subjected to any other detriment, or victimised, because they have made a disclosure.
1.7 The council is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, probity and accountability. In line with that commitment the council encourages employees, customers, contractors, employees of subsidiaries, stakeholders or any other person with serious concerns about any aspect of the council’s work to come forward and voice those concerns.
1.8 It is recognised that certain cases will have to proceed on a confidential basis but in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act this policy seeks to provide a transparent method for dealing with concerns. Whistle-blowers can have confidence through this policy that they have the fullest protections afforded by the Public Interest Disclosures Act.
1.9 Specifically this policy makes it clear that employees and others can make reports without fear of reprisals and sets out what protections are in place under this policy. It is intended to encourage and enable concerns to be raised within the council so that they can be addressed, rather than overlooking problems or raising them outside the council.
1.10 All officers, councillors and partners have a responsibility to protect the council’s interests through the proper adherence to this policy.
1.11 The council is committed to maintaining high ethical standards and taking your concerns seriously.