2.1 The culture of the authority has always been one of the highest ethical standards, probity, openness and the core values of fairness, trust and value support this. The authority’s culture therefore supports the opposition to fraud and corruption.
2.2 The prevention/detection of fraud/corruption and the protection of the public purse are everyone’s responsibility and of paramount importance to the authority.
2.3 The authority’s elected members, and all employees play an important role in creating and maintaining this culture. They are positively encouraged to raise concerns regarding fraud and corruption, immaterial of seniority, rank or status, in the knowledge that such concerns will, wherever possible, be treated in confidence. To that effect the council has adopted a whistleblowing policy.
2.4 The definitions of fraud and corruption are by their nature technical and have their basis in the Fraud Act which became law on 15 January 2007. A more practical definition is where the council’s assets, including money, are dishonestly obtained by someone not entitled to them. Examples include:
- theft of cash or assets,
- obtaining access to services not entitled to eg obtaining a council house
- falsifying information or documentation eg timesheets, overtime, expenses, qualifications etc
- dishonesty between officers and management
- the deliberate concealment of information required by the council eg convictions or activities inconsistent with the council’s duties and responsibilities.
- defrauding welfare payments such as housing benefit and council tax reduction and council tax single person discounts etc.
2.5 The authority will ensure that any allegations received in any way, including by anonymous letters or phone calls, will be taken seriously and investigated in an appropriate manner, subject to the requirements of the Human Rights Act 1998 and other statutory provisions.
2.6 The authority will deal firmly with those who defraud the authority, or who are corrupt, or where there has been financial malpractice. There is, of course, a need to ensure that any investigation process is not misused and, therefore, any abuse (such as raising malicious allegations) may be dealt with as appropriate.
2.7 When fraud or corruption have occurred because of a breakdown in the
authority’s systems or procedures, corporate leadership team (CLT) will ensure that appropriate improvements in systems of control are implemented to prevent a reoccurrence.
2.8 In certain circumstances and where appropriate a commercial settlement between the council and an employee may be deemed necessary as a way of disposing of a case. This should only be undertaken following agreement by the chief executive and monitoring officer and following an independent review by NP Law.