Council reports increase in whistleblowing incidents
Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter
A local authority has confirmed a significant increase of whistleblowing incidents in the last year.
Vale of Glamorgan council’s 2022/2023 annual whistleblowing report, published ahead of a governance and audit committee meeting next week, shows that the number of incidents reported was “significantly higher” than the eight year average for the council.
Data in the report also shows that 10 of the 15 whistleblowing incidents reported since April 1 2023 are under investigation.
The council said it has been increasing awareness and educating staff around whistleblowing and has vowed to continue this work.
A whistleblowing survey carried out by the council in 2021/22, responded to by 323 members of staff, revealed that only 58% of participants were willing to report concerns at work.
Plaid Cymru councillor, Councillor Mark Hooper criticised the council at the time, labelling the figures “poor” and “scary”.
Since then, the council said these figures have improved with 68% of respondents saying they were willing to report issues in the workplace.
A total of 288 members of staff responded to the survey in 2023.
The latest figures on whistleblowing will be discussed at the governance and audit committee on Monday February 5.
They show that there were 11 incidents reported in 2022/23. In 2020/21 and 2021/22 there were one and four incidents reported respectively.
The areas covered in the council’s whistleblowing policy include:
Conduct which is a criminal offence or breach of law
A breach of the council’s code of conduct for staff or councillors
Sexual, physical or verbal abuse
Dangerous procedures that risk health and safety
Unauthorised use of public funds
Suspected fraud or corruption
Damage to the environment
Unethical or improper conduct
Services that fall seriously below approved standards or practice
Failure to follow the council’s policies and procedures
At the end of 2022/23, the department that had the most reported incidents at Vale of Glamorgan Council was social services at five incidents, followed by environment and housing, which had four.
Vale of Glamorgan Council said it will be carrying out promotional work annually to promote awareness of its whistleblowing policy and the legal protections afforded to whistleblowers.
It also said that work is being done to see how survey responses can be increased and that annual staff surveys will be undertaken to track progress in these areas.
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