Whistleblow


The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland is a prescribed person under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, which provides legal protections for employees who whistleblow.

What sort of whistleblowing does the Commissioner handle?

The Commissioner handles cases where people have a genuine concern about malpractice or wrongdoing in their workplace that relates to promoting and safeguarding the rights of children and young people in Scotland. If you contact the Commissioner to whistleblow, that’s called making a disclosure.

What are the laws around disclosing information to the Commissioner?

There are certain things that must be true for a disclosure to be protected under the Public Interest Disclosure Act.

A whisteblower must reasonably believe they’re acting both in good faith and in the public interest when they pass information on. That means the issue you’re disclosing has to affect others, not just yourself.

When contacting a Prescribed Person, whistleblowers must meet certain legal criteria for their disclosure to be covered under the Act.

When a whistleblower passes on information they must reasonably believe that they are acting both in good faith and in the public interest. This means it has to affect others, not just yourself: personal grievances and complaints aren’t covered by the Act.

You must also believe your disclosure is about one of the following:

  • criminal offences (including financial improprieties, such as fraud),
  • failure to comply with duties set out in law,
  • miscarriages of justice,
  • endangering someone’s health and safety,
  • damage to the environment, or
  • covering up any of the above.

The Commissioner cannot give you legal advice, and they also can’t advise you as to whether your disclosure will be protected under the Act. You should seek independent advice about whether your disclosure may be protected. You can get free advice about this from Protect:

Protect
CAN Mezzanine
7-14 Great Dover Street
London SE1 4YR

Whistleblowing Advice Line: 020 7404 6609

UK advice email: whistle@protect-advice.org.uk

UK advice site: https://www.protect-advice.org.uk/

How can I raise a whistleblowing concern?

Your organisation should have an internal policy that explains how you can safely raise whistleblowing concerns. You should follow this policy before contacting the Commissioner unless:

  • you believe you may be victimised for doing so,
  • you believe the thing you’re concerned about might be covered up,
  • you believe your concern was not dealt with properly through your employer’s whistleblowing policy.

Any whistleblowing disclosure made to the Commissioner should be about the rights, interests and well-being of children in Scotland.

Any whistleblowing disclosure made to the Commissioner should be about the rights, interests and well-being of children in Scotland.

How will we respond to your whistleblowing concern?

We respond to whistleblowing concerns as we do to other enquiries. We will let you know if we can take any action and what that action will be. If we are unable to help, we will advise you as to someone else who may be able to assist you.

We aim to acknowledge enquiries within two working days and to provide an initial response within five working days.

Our Advice and Investigations Service is confidential and you can contact us anonymously if you wish.

We will only collect or share information about you if:

  • you have given us your permission, or
  • we are worried about your or someone else’s safety.

You should be aware that if the Commissioner raises your concern with an organisation – although every effort will be made to protect your identity – there is a risk that the organisation may be able to guess who you are.

If you want to make a whistleblowing disclosure to the Commissioner, please contact the Advice and Investigations Team at inbox@cypcs.org.uk or at:

Advice Officer
Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland
Bridgeside House
99 McDonald Road
Edinburgh
EH7 4NS
0131 346 5350

If you need any assistance to communicate with us, please let us know and we will do our best to help.

How we report whistleblowing

The Commissioner is required to report on an annual basis the number of disclosures made to him under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

The Commissioner’s statutory function is to promote and safeguard the rights of children and young people. This is set out in  the Commissioner for Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2003. The Commissioner’s approach to whistleblowing disclosures is informed by that role and by the Commissioner’s statutory powers as set out in the same Act. The range of responses open to the Commissioner is the same as with any other enquiry received by the office and is subject to the same decision-making process on the most appropriate course of action.

A:

A rule is statutory when it’s been officially written down in a law.

When someone doesn’t follow a statutory rule, then they are breaking the law.

Recent disclosures

In the period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, two disclosures were made by individuals presenting as whistleblowers: one raising concerns about exclusion of looked after young people from schools and the lack of local authority implementation of the Scottish Government’s Included, Engaged, Involved Part 2 guidance on school exclusions. The other was about teaching standards in a primary school special unit.

In the first disclosure it was agreed with the whistleblower to await the outcome of the Scottish Government’s review of the guidance, which will include information on local authority implementation, before deciding on further action.

In the second disclosure the whistleblower was concerned about possible repercussions and requested that no further action be taken with the local authority due to the risk of identification. After further consideration we contacted Education Scotland about issues of this kind raised by the public and were able to provide information to the enquirer about how to report concerns to Education Scotland and what action they would be able to take.

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