How many wrongs must a boss investigate
Before they substantiate a claim?
How many thefts must an auditor ignore
With their head in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the public pay
Before they’re finally paid?
The answer, my friend, is whisleblowin’ in the wind(With apologies to Dylan)
The answer is whistleblowin’ in the wind
An interesting document emerges from their Audit Committee about whistleblowing at Bristol City Council last year.
It reveals that eight decent workers stepped forward between April 2020 and March 2021 with serious allegations that met the legal criteria for formal whistleblowing. These criteria are
– a criminal offence has been committed;
– someone’s health and safety is in danger;
– there’s a risk or actual damage to the environment;
– there’s a miscarriage of justice;
– the organisation is breaking the law;
– you believe someone is covering up wrongdoing;
So far so good but then we learn from the council’s report that the result of seven of these complaints was that the claims were “unsubstantiated” while the other one was “not considered a whistleblowing matter”. Which raises the question of what is it doing in a whistleblowing report then?
Five of the eight complaints emerged from the Growth and Regeneration department, run for much of the year by the second highest paid local government officer in the country. That’s our dear old friend, Colin “Head Boy” Molton, and the complaints about his department included allegations of, er fraud, corruption, perjury and drug abuse!
However, we are told that in a couple of cases that “control issues [were] identified, and internal audit review commissioned,” which sounds just like something has been substantiated doesn’t it?
The question that needs to be asked here, then, is what was done to substantiate these whistleblowing claims and who was responsible? For example, if you don’t investigate a complaint then it will remain unsubstantiated won’t it?
Or if, as the council often does, a claim of wrongdoing is investigated by the manager directly responsible for the matter in question, an investigation will fail to substantiate perfectly reasonable and evidenced claims.
Alas, the report put before the Audit Committee contains no detail about how these whistleblowing complaints were dealt with other than to announce they were all “unsubstantiated” and therefore no boss at the council appears to have done anything wrong (again) in any of the cases.
It’s nothing short of risible that this is the case for eight separate whistleblowing claims and this does nothing to encourage whistleblowing at the council. Why bother to potentially ruin your career to get a sentence in an obscure report stating your claims are “unsubstantiated” without explanation?
”Yes ‘n’ how many times can a man turn his head pretending he just doesn’t see?”