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PE01488: Whistleblowing in local government

People Communities

Petitioner: Pete Gregson on behalf of Kids not Suits

Status:
Closed

Date Lodged: 16 August 2013

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to support the introduction of staff whistle-blower hotlines to report mismanagement in Scottish local authorities, with reports overseen by councillors from each party.

Petition History:

Summary:

29 October 2013: The Commitee took evidence from Pete Gregson. The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government, COSLA, Audit Scotland, Unison, Unite, GMB, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers Scotland (SOLACE). Link to Official Report 29 October 2013 (517KB pdf)

14 January 2014: The Committee agreed to issue reminders to the organisations that did not respond to the Committee’s initial request for views. Link to Official Report 14 January 2014 (417KB pdf)

18 March 2014: The Committee agreed to write to the Accounts Commission, Audit Scotland, COSLA and local authorities. Link to Official Report 18 March 2014 (378KB pdf)

20 May 2014: The Committee agreed to defer consideration of the petition to its next meeting. Link to Official Report 20 May 2014 (491KB pdf)

3 June 2014: The Committee agreed to close the petition, under Rule 15.7, on the basis that the petition is about policies that are matters for locally elected representatives; Audit Scotland / the Accounts Commission is responsible for auditing these policies and, to date, it has not identified any weaknesses related to whistleblowing which have required to be flagged-up in the annual report for a local authority. Link to Official Report 3 June 2014 (484KB pdf)

Written Submissions:

How do you think staff reports on mismanagement in publicly funded bodies should be addressed? How should reports be escalated? How best to prevent victimisation that may result?  Who should deal with reports- officers or politicians? Should anonymous disclosures be allowed? 

Most Councils have Member- Officer Protocols in place which forbid communication between staff and councillors on matters which may (even incidentally) relate to their job. Does this mean Council staff have less access to democracy than the ordinary citizen?

Should councillors take on the responsibility of investigating malpractice?

Do you think they have forgotten that they are the masters and the officials the servants?

"We leave unmolested those who set the fire to the house, and prosecute those who sound the alarm." Nicolas Chamfort A very apt quote. Everybody from children in school right up to adults in any employment need to know that they can report wrongdoing without fear of recrimination.

Declan Egar

21:42 on 14 Aug 2013

This is a very worthy Petition. Perhaps it would be enhanced by being more inclusive of all tiers of governance? There are many people that would be prepared to help uncover much more of the fact based evidence if their jobs were not on the line for doing so. ALL public sector employment contracts should contain rigid protection for people offering evidence in such cases. Isn't that simply a requirement of any democracy?

John McLean

14:51 on 09 Aug 2013

What a very worthy Petition. Perhaps limiting it to Local Government and not to be fully inclusive of all aspects and levels of Governance is its only potential weakness? There are cases where Councillors have been criticised in external audits for not holding the Council Officials to account due to a lack of training provided by the very Council officials that were not being held to account! There are many good people that would come forward in the name of Administrative Justice if their employment was not on the line. All Contracts of Employment should have such a protection as part of our democratic rights.

John McLean

11:05 on 09 Aug 2013

This is long overdue. I have had personal knowledge on more than one occasion where local authority staff members confidentially (authority name withheld) hinted and voiced their disagreement and discomfort with decisions which had impacted negatively on Article 8 related matters within proceedings, which then established Article 6 circumstances and failings, contrary to government legislations, as well as the authority's own procedural guidelines. I most certainly will be keeping an eye on the whether this gets the green light or not. It ought to. If it does there perhaps could be a online reporting system put in place complete with encrypted privacy measures which will allow whistle blowers to feel confident that their revelation will have guaranteed anonymity, certainly important for those who would be in fear of being victimized or penalized for breaching confidentiality clauses which is written into most Article 8 type cases, in particular child protection proceedings for example. Maladministration is a huge problem despite the under reporting and adverse publicity and those who may have knowledge about wrong doings or culpable deviation from good procedural practice are worried about losing their pensions.

CG BURRY

4:35 on 08 Aug 2013

Having been a victim of very nasty abuse, bullying, intimidation, threats and discrimination. I support any policy that allows greater disclosure of wrong doing within local authorities.

Sean

20:16 on 13 Jul 2013

I fully support this Petition as a means of ensuring better transparency and accountability from public service officials. If granted, then, in time, it would be hoped that the reputation of pubic sector organisations as honest and competent might be restored.

Alison Bourne

15:02 on 03 Jul 2013

Whistleblowing... "We leave unmolested those who set the fire to the house, and prosecute those who sound the alarm." Nicolas Chamfort

Pete Gregson

21:31 on 01 Jul 2013

In a perfect world we would not need whistleblowers but we do because our governments lie repeatedly. Julian Assange

Jan Ooms

14:13 on 30 Jun 2013

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