For the scope of this policy ‘raising a cause for concern’ is defined as:
“The reporting to an ‘internal body’ of any suspected malpractice, wrongdoing or dangers in relation to ABC to read’s financial or fundraising activities.”
For the scope of this Policy, ‘whistleblowing’ is defined as;
“The reporting to an ‘external body’ of any suspected malpractice, wrongdoing or dangers in relation to ABC to read’s financial or fundraising activities.”
These may relate to:
- Criminal offences;
- Breach of any legal or professional obligation;
- A miscarriage of justice
- Breach of the Fundraising Code of Practice; or
- Deliberately concealing any of the above.
A concern can be raised by telephone, in person, or in writing (including email). It is preferable if it is made in writing. Although the individual is not expected to prove the truth of their concern beyond doubt or provide evidence, the individual will generally need to provide the following as a minimum:
The nature of the concern and why the individual believes it is happening; and
The background and history of the concern (where possible).
Prior to ’whistleblowing’ The procedure for dealing with person who has a concern is as follows:
When a concern of suspected malpractice is reported, initial enquiries should be made to resolve the issue internally where possible. If this is not possible, then procedure for disclosing information incorporates three stages.
At each stage of the process, all parties will ensure that the matter remains strictly confidential.
In raising a concern, persons must act in good faith and believe that what is being alleged is likely to result in the outcomes 1-4 described above.
The three stages in the process of investigating a concern are:
|Stage 1||Initial investigation|
|A person wishing to raise an issue should take this up either orally or in writing with the member of ABC to read staff they normally deal with.
If that staff member is the person against whom the disclosure is made, the person may go immediately to Stage 2.
The staff member should investigate with the informant and document the facts surrounding the allegation. It should be made clear from the outset that the matter will be dealt with in confidence and that the informant will not suffer any detriment as a result of the disclosure being made. The investigation should be initiated within 5 working days and completed as soon as possible to the mutual satisfaction of all parties.
|Stage 2||If the issues are not investigated at Stage 1, or the matter is too serious or sensitive, the person may request that the matter be raised with the Trustees of ABC to read.|
|Exceptionally serious or sensitive matters||Where the person deems the matter to be exceptionally serious, or sensitive they should go immediately to the Chief Officer or Chair of Trustees.|
|Stage 3||On completion of the investigation, consideration should be given to the next appropriate course of action. The trustees should be contacted to consider the case in full and to decide on further action in line with other relevant good practice and policies.
Where there is a case to answer in relation to the disclosure ‘further action’ may include disciplinary proceedings for one or more parties involved in the matter disclosed. This should be dealt with in line with the Disciplinary Policy (in the case of staff) or Volunteer Policy and Procedures(in the case of volunteers) . The rights of the person who has raised concerns should be respected and those concerns treated confidentially and their identity should remain protected where possible.
The person who has raised concerns will be informed, where possible, of what action has been taken and how the matter has been dealt with in accordance with ABC to read’s procedures.
The Chief Officer and Chair will be informed of all matters in relation to ‘the concerns raised’ and any course of action decided upon.
If the individual believes that the appropriate action has not been taken then they should report the matter to the proper authority i.e. HMRC, FSA.
There are other possible avenues of disclosure:
Persons may also refer concerns to either the Treasurer or the Accountant, details are listed with Charity Commission or available on request.
NB.(This is the point where a person who, “has concerns” may become a ’whistleblower’ and not until this point)
If for whatever reason, the person who has a concern, which they do not feel has been adequately dealt with hitherto internally, the law recognises that it may be appropriate for them to raise the matter with another prescribed person outside of ABC to read, such as a regulator or professional body. It is at this point that ABC recognises that a person who has a concern may, in all conscience, become a ‘whistleblower’ i.e. a person who has exhausted all internal mechanisms to deal with a valid complaint.
A list of the relevant prescribed people and bodies for this purpose GOV.UK website at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/blowing-the-whistle-list-of-prescribed-people-and-bodies–2 . If you have a concern regarding any of the ABC to read’s fundraising practices which cannot be considered internally, you can
contact the Fundraising Regulator https://www.fundraisingregulator.org.uk/make-a-complaint/complaints/ . Note that if you do so, you will be asked whether or not you are happy for your details to be shared with the ABC to read, and that the Fundraising Regulator is not a prescribed body.
However, to ensure the protection of all our volunteers and staff, should the individual go outside of the internal procedure without reasonable justification or raise a concern frivolously, maliciously and/or for personal gain and/or make an allegation they do not reasonably believe to be true and/or made in the public interest, ABC to read may resort to disciplinary action under its Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures. This may also be the case where the internal disclosure proves to be unfounded and not made in good faith.
ABC to read strongly encourages any individual to seek appropriate advice before raising a concern to anyone external.
ABC to read is committed to good practice and high standards and to being supportive to anyone who raise genuine concerns under this policy, even if they turn out to be mistaken.
Any individual raising a genuine concern must not suffer any detriment as a result of doing so. If an individual believes they have suffered such treatment, they should inform the Chair or the Chief Officer immediately.
No volunteer or member of staff must threaten or retaliate against an individual who has raised a concern and ABC to read will not tolerate any such harassment or victimisation. Any person involved in such conduct may be subject to disciplinary action.
What happens if you do not follow this Policy
If the ABC to read is not made aware of any suspected wrongdoing in its fundraising practices, and such wrongdoing is subsequently proven, ABC to read is at risk of public censure by the Fundraising Regulator or the Charity Commission. This will damage the ABC to read’s reputation.
If this Policy is not followed in relation to any concern raised, there is a risk that any investigation into the matter is compromised.
Queries and comments
If you have any queries regarding how this Policy works in practice, or comments or suggestions as to how it could be improved, please contact the ABC to read’s Chief Officer.
Persons who are contemplating making public disclosure may wish to approach ‘Public Concern at Work’ (PCaW). Its objective is to safeguard the public interest by empowering individuals to speak up about wrongdoing in the workplace and helping organisations to address risk responsibly. The charity is wholly independent of Government. PCaW is recognised as a legal advice centre by the Bar Council and the Law Society. Since its establishment in 1993 PCaW has successfully advised on fifteen hundred cases.
Through its helpline (telephone 020 7404 6609 or email email@example.com), PCaW’s lawyers provide confidential advice, free of charge, to people who are concerned about wrongdoing at work but who are not sure whether to, or how to, raise their concerns. Examples of the wrongdoing about which PCAW can give advice are fraud, public dangers and risks to consumers. For persons who are in this position, PCAW aims to help them identify how best to raise their concerns, while minimising any risk to them and maximising the opportunity for any wrongdoing to be addressed.
PCaW also provide information about how PIDA operates. It does not take cases or represent clients, but for persons wishing to make claims under PIDA and needing help to do so it will give information on other useful sources of advice.
Information about PCaW is given on its website at: http://www.pcaw.co.uk/
Procedure for dealing with a whistleblowing incident published via the media
In some cases the whistleblowing incident may not be reported to the organisation following the above procedure, for example it might be published in a news item. In such cases, as soon as a member of staff or volunteer becomes aware of the incident the following procedure should be followed:
1. The matter should be immediately reported to the CO, or if there is potential involvement of the CO, then to the Chair of Trustees (contact details can be found below). If you are concerned that it involves both individuals, you should try to contact another member on the Board or seek advice from a third party, such as Reading Voluntary Action or the Charity Commission.
2. The CO will immediately discuss the matter with the Chair of Trustees and convene an emergency Trustee meeting with a quorum of Trustees present to identify the best course of action, including (but not limited to):
· What action should be taken to safeguard any service users and/or charity resources without delay, including notifying the authorities, making any safeguarding referrals where appropriate and ensuring that any alleged perpetrator does not have continued access to service users or charity resources whilst at the same time ensuring that this does not compromise any criminal proceedings. If necessary advice should be immediately sought from the authorities, social services or a solicitor.
· Draft a statement to be released on behalf of the charity both externally to the media and service users, and also internally to staff and volunteers. This will include what remedial action is being taken and what individuals can expect or when they can expect to find out more information and how. It will also include a contact name and details for anyone who would like to query the matter.
· Consider whether a Serious Incident Report must be submitted to the Charity Commission. If in doubt, trustees will seek advice from RVA, the Charity Commission or a solicitor.
· Report back to the individual member of staff or volunteer regarding the action that is being taken.
3. Individual staff or volunteers should not make any comments to the press on the organisation’s behalf unless you have explicit consent from the CO or a Trustee and this has been approved by the Board of Trustees.
4. If the individual member of staff or volunteer is concerned that the matter is not being appropriately investigated in line with this procedure, then they should contact the external organisations listed above.
Chair. Paul Dieppe firstname.lastname@example.org