Freedom of information response

External whistleblowers

Publication date: 
Monday 30 March 2020
Request: 

I write seeking information about your Local Authority’s role as a prescribed body under the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 1999. 

I would be grateful if you would provide responses to me by email to the below questions please:

The context is that an external whistleblower is making a disclosure to your Authority about a matter in respect of which you are a prescribed body or person as per the above:

1. Does your organisation take action to protect external whistleblowers from unjustified treatment by their employers or others?

Please select one of the below answers if possible –

  • i. Yes (please explain what action is taken)
  • ii. No
  • iii. Not known

2. Does any protection against unjustified treatment provided by your organisation extend to persons reporting on behalf of external whistleblowers?

  • i. Yes (please explain what action is taken)
  • ii. No
  • iii. Not known

3. Does any protection extend to proposed or intended unjustified action against an external whistleblower contemplated by his/her employer or another in respect of the disclosure?

  • i. Yes (please explain what action is taken)
  • ii. No
  • iii. Not known

4. Does your organisation offer any reward or bounty for information received from an external whistleblower in respect of information about which you are the prescribed body or person?

  • i. Yes
  • ii. No
  • iii. Not known

5. Does your organisation publish for the public a step by step guide on how it follows up on external whistleblower information?

  • i. Yes
  • ii. No
  • iii. Not known

6. Where your organisation does not feel itself to be legally competent to engage with a disclosure made by an external whistleblower, do you have a policy and process to refer that disclosure to another prescribed body/person/regulator or other agency better placed to deal with it?

  • i. Yes (please provide a copy of the policy, where written)
  • ii. No
  • iii. Not known

7. Where in the circumstances described in Q6 above, your organisation passes information to another prescribed body etc., do you have a policy and process to advise the external whistleblower that the disclosure has been passed to another body etc?

  • i. Yes (please provide a copy of the policy, where written)
  • ii. No
  • iii. Not known

8. Where an external whistleblower may be dissatisfied with his/her dealings with your organisation, is there an appeals policy and process which engage someone who is independent of the investigating department?

  • i. Yes (please provide a copy of the policy, where written)
  • ii. No
  • iii. Not known

9. Does your organisation publish FAQ to advise and assist external whistleblowers considering making a disclosure to you?

  • i. Yes (please provide the FAQ or direct me to it)
  • ii. No
  • iii. Not known

10. Does all your staff which communicates with or otherwise manages external whistleblowers receive specialist and on-going training for that purpose?

  • i. Yes
  • ii. No
  • iii. Not known

11. Where, following a disclosure to your organisation by an external whistleblower about a matter for which you are prescribed, an alleged act of retaliation occurs against the external whistleblower by the employer or another person, does your organisation investigate the alleged act of retaliation?

  • i. Yes
  • ii. No
  • iii. It would depend on the facts
  • iv. Not known

12. Please describe what criteria you consider in deciding whether to investigate information received from an external whistleblower about a matter in respect of which you are prescribed?

13. Does your organisation distinguish between public complaints and external whistleblowers?

  • i. Yes (please describe the essential differences in your approach between managing public complaints and external whistleblower disclosures)
  • ii. No
  • iii. Not known

14. Apart from any information on your website, does your organisation undertake any public awareness programme(s) regarding whistleblowing?

  • i. Yes (if so please provide details)
  • ii. No
  • iii. Not known
Response: 

1. The term “external whistle blowers” is vague when applied to the council’s policy. The council’s policy and the protection it affords applies to “all council workers, partners and those contractors working for the council – for example agency staff, builders, drivers and voluntary workers working with the council. It also covers suppliers and those providing services under a contract with the council in their own premises, for example care homes”. Anyone not fitting that criteria would be supported in line with legislation.

2. Please see comments above

3. Please see comments above

4. Not known. Our policy does not include this and it would generally not be considered appropriate

5. Yes the Council has a published policy

6. Not known, each case would be assessed on its own merits

7. Not known, each case would be assessed on its own merits

8. Yes - this is covered in the council's complaints process: https://www.thurrock.gov.uk/how-to-complain/overview

9. Not known

10. Not known

11. It would depend on the facts

12. Investigations are carried out in accordance with the policy

13. Not known

14. Not known

You are free to use any information supplied to you for your own use, including non-commercial research purposes.  However, any other type of re-use, for example, by publishing the information or issuing copies to the public will require the permission of the copyright owner.

Where the copyright is owned by Thurrock Council, you must apply to the Council to re-use the information.  Please email information.matters@thurrock.gov.uk if you wish to re-use the information you have been supplied. For information where the copyright is owned by another person or organisation, you must apply to the copyright owner to obtain their permission.

Request reference:
FOI 9886