5.1 The council offers various routes for concerns to be raised. To ensure that they are processed appropriately, and to help direct a prompt response, referrals will be reviewed by the interim internal audit manager, the monitoring officer and the head of human resources and learning at the earliest opportunity to agree the best approach.
5.2 The action taken by the council will depend on the nature of the concern. Where appropriate, the matters raised may:
- be investigated by management, internal audit, or other appropriate person
- be referred to the external auditor
- be referred to the police
- form the subject of an independent inquiry.
5.3 In order to protect individuals and the council, an initial investigation will be carried out to decide whether a full investigation is appropriate and, if so, what form it should take. Concerns or allegations, which fall within the scope of specific procedures, for example, safeguarding or discrimination issues, will normally be referred for consideration under those procedures.
5.4 It should be noted that some concerns may be resolved by agreed action without the need for investigation. Equally some issues may be investigated without the need for initial enquiries. If urgent action were required, this would be taken before any investigation is conducted.
5.5 The council will write to the person raising the concern within seven working days (i.e. the individual or representative with whom the report was lodged) to:
- acknowledge that the concern has been received
- indicate how it proposes to deal with the matter
- give an indication of when a final response or update will be provided
- inform the person whether any initial enquiries have been made
- supply the person with information on employee support mechanisms, and
- inform the person whether further investigations will take place and, if not, why not.
5.6 Every effort will be made to resolve the matters raised as soon as possible, in the interests of the council, the person raising the concern and the person(s) being investigated.
5.7 The amount of contact between the officers considering the issues and the person raising the concern will depend on the nature of the matters raised, the potential difficulties involved and the clarity of the information provided. If necessary, further information may be sought from the person raising the concern.
5.8 Where any meeting is arranged, employees have the right, if they so wish, to be accompanied by someone, such as a trade union representative or a work colleague, who is not involved in the area of work to which the concern relates.
5.9 The council will take appropriate steps to minimise any difficulties, which a person may experience as a result of raising a concern and provide advice and support should they be required to give evidence, e.g. at a disciplinary hearing.
5.10 The council accepts that the person raising a concern needs to be assured that the matter has been properly addressed. Thus, subject to legal constraints, the person raising the concern will be kept informed as the investigation progresses unless they have requested otherwise. At the very least they should receive an update on the investigation by the date implied by the estimated response time given in section 5.4.