Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblowing) Policy and Procedures
This policy was discussed and drafted by Development Group. The Board approved it's adoption at their meeting of 30th August 2018.
The Public Disclosure Act 1998  protects most workers in the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Whistleblowing is a term used for what is legally known as a Public Interest Disclosure (PID), which is when an employee or volunteer discloses information about malpractice/wrongdoing they discover occurring in their workplace. Employees are legally protected against being dismissed or penalised as a result of making a disclosure. Volunteers have the right to disclose concerns relating to Freegle without fear of victimisation or detriment.
Freegle is committed to the highest standards of integrity, honesty, openness and accountability, as well as complying with its legal obligation. Volunteers share an important role in achieving this goal. If there is a reason to suspect that these procedures need to be enforced, volunteers will usually be the first to know if someone is doing something illegal or improper and might feel worried about voicing their concerns. But we have built our reputation together and we trust each other to safeguard the joint work of other volunteers when raising issues of PID.
This policy and procedure aims to enable employees and volunteers to raise concerns internally and to disclose information which the individual believes shows malpractice or impropriety. It also applies to external consultants, contractors and agency staff whilst working within the organisation.
The list below isn’t exhaustive, but we would expect the following to be reported:
- Criminal activity
- Financial malpractice or impropriety or fraud
- Failure to comply with legal obligations
- Actions which endanger the health or safety of employees, volunteers or the public
- Wilful failure to declare a relevant interest in the Register of Interests
- Actions which are intended to conceal any of the above
We have a Complaints Procedure covering Freegle organisational issues of compliance and practice within our network. This PID Policy addresses the external compliance expected of us all.
If an individual makes an allegation in good faith, which is not confirmed by subsequent investigation, no action will be taken against that individual. In making a disclosure the individual should exercise due care to ensure the accuracy of the information. If, however, an individual makes malicious or vexatious allegations, and particularly if he or she persists with making them, the Board may decide to take action against that individual.
a. Complaints should be made to the Board via email. Complaints against a Director should be emailed directly to the Company Secretary. Complaints against the Company Secretary should be emailed directly to the Board Chair. (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)
b. If the complainant perceives a conflict of interest, they can report to any Director of their choice, who will judge which Board members if any should be excluded from consideration of the complaint. If a mail to the whole Board is received, Board members must declare any conflicts.
c. Individuals are expected to put their name to any disclosures they submit, although the Board might consider anonymous disclosures if the matter raised is of sufficient gravity and accompanied by evidence.
d. The Board will treat all disclosures in a confidential and sensitive manner. The identity of the individual making the allegation may be kept confidential so long as it does not hinder or frustrate any investigation. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the police or a regulator for example, may need to be involved.
e. The Board will inform the complainant who will investigate the concerns and advise of the likely timescale of the investigation.
f. Investigations will be undertaken as quickly as possible without affecting the quality and depth of those investigations.
g. The Board may ask for further information and evidence.
h. If there is evidence of criminal activity then the police should be informed. The Board will ensure that any internal investigation does not hinder a formal police investigation.
i. If, for any reason, the complainant feels the person initially contacted with the concern has failed to deal with the issue in a satisfactory manner, that concern should be sent to the Ombudsman. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
j. If the Ombudsman is contacted, the Complaints Procedure will be followed, with the conclusion recommended to the Board. The Board has the final decision whether to accept that recommendation or not.
k. Concerns should not be disclosed outside of Freegle before the Board has concluded its internal investigation, or 2 months from raising the issue, whichever is soonest. In particular, no discussion of the issue should take place with any representative of the media or discussed on social media.
l. If the individual concerned feels unable to raise the issues within Freegle, they may consider raising them with an appropriate authority. However, Freegle hopes that most concerns raised on an internal basis will be duly resolved.
m. If the complaint has been made by an employee or ex-employee, and the investigation finds the allegations unsubstantiated and all internal procedures have been exhausted, the Board recognises the complainant's right to make disclosures to prescribed persons (such as the Health & Safety Executive or the Audit Commission).
n. The Board will keep appropriate and confidential records of any complaints/disclosures made under this policy, in compliance with our Data Protection Policy.