Guidance for individuals
Raising a concern
Members of staff are often the first to realise that there may be something seriously wrong within their organisation. However, they may not wish to speak up because they may feel disloyal towards colleagues and their employer if they do so. They may also be concerned that they will be subject to victimisation or harassment if they speak out, or may feel it is easier to ignore their concerns if they only have an inkling or suspicion that something may be wrong.
The Government is committed to ensuring that all of us have a safe, reliable and confidential way of reporting any suspicious activity. Every member of staff should know how they can raise concerns.
We all have a responsibility to help detect, prevent and report instances of wrongdoing. If you have a concern regarding a suspected instance of noncompliance, please speak up – your information and assistance will help.
What concerns should be raised under this policy?
As a general guide, you should report your concerns if you consider it would be in the public interest to stop the malpractice and, if appropriate, for sanctions to be applied.
Although you are not expected to prove the truth of an allegation, you will need to demonstrate to the person contacted that there are sufficient grounds for your concern. Wherever possible provide information (facts) in your disclosure
For example ‘the wards have not been cleaned for the past two weeks and sharps have been left lying around’ rather than a generalised allegation such as, ‘the hospital is not complying with health and safety requirements.’
You may discuss your concern with a work colleague, who may also have knowledge of the matters you wish to raise, and you may consider making a joint disclosure. The earlier you express your concerns, the easier it will be to take action and to minimise any negative impact on the Government.
Issues which should be raised under this policy, and the list is not exhaustive, are where there is a suspicion or direct evidence that the following have been, are being, or are likely to be, committed by a fellow member of staff:
- a criminal offence or activity
- financial mismanagement or corruption
- physical or emotional abuse of prisoners, children or the elderly in care
- health and safety issues concerning transport that puts the safety of workers or visitors at risk
- health and safety issues concerning the workplace that puts the safety of workers or visitors at risk
- medical negligence in health care establishment
- undue favour shown, either on a contractual matter, or to a job applicant
- bad working practice
- breaches of legislation (eg Health and Safety, Data Protection Act
- risks to the environment (eg dumping damaging material)
- a breach of the Government, Department, Regulatory or Professional Body Code of Conduct
- a breach of the Government Financial Regulations
- concealment of any of the above
- payments in exchange for awarding contracts and/or offering, taking or soliciting bribes (Whistleblowing in regard to bribery needs to be reported as per the Whistleblowing procedure and Anti-Bribery Procedure (ie to a Designated Officer and a Constable in the Isle of Man Constabulary Financial Crime Unit)
For any issues not listed here, you should use your judgment as to whether to take action under this policy. If in any doubt, you are advised to follow the terms of this policy and make a disclosure. Should your report relate to issues outside its scope, you will be advised accordingly.
With whom should your concerns be raised?
You are encouraged in the first instance to raise your concern with your line manager. If, however, you do not feel confident using this avenue, there are other safe alternatives.
An officer of your Board, Department or Office has been appointed to act as a Designated Officer under this policy. You should refer your concerns to that officer in the event that you do not wish to report the issue to your manager. You are encouraged to disclose your name to the Designated Officer whenever possible. If you have other queries in this regard please contact the Treasury Audit Advisory Division. Your query will be dealt with on a confidential basis.
- If the concern involves the Designated Officer, the matter should be reported to the Accounting Officer who will appoint an alternative Designated Officer
- If the concern involves the Chief Executive, then this will be reported to the Minister or Chairperson responsible for that Department, Board or Office, who will decide how the investigation will proceed
If you require further advice you may wish to contact your trade union office or the Manx Industrial Relations Service (MIRS). This is an independent and impartial service which is available free of charge to any individual or organisation. Any discussions held with MIRS are confidential.
Alternatively you may seek advice from the UK independent charitable body Public Concern at Work. This organisation operates a helpline and can be contacted by telephone on 0207 404 6609 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Public Concern At Work will give free, independent, confidential advice at any stage of the process, but may not be familiar with Isle of Man legislation or our Governmental system. Information given to a helpline will not constitute legal notification to the organisation.
How should you raise your concern?
You are encouraged to raise any concerns verbally with your line manager in the first instance. Although you are not expected to prove an allegation, you will need to demonstrate that there are sufficient grounds for your concern.
Concerns are best raised in writing, though they can also be expressed verbally e.g. through a telephone call. As much information as possible should be given, which should include:
- the background to the concern
- name/s of individual/s involved
- details of dates and places where the malpractice occurred or is likely to occur
- the reasons why you are particularly concerned/making the disclosure (ie ground for suspicions)
If you raise your concern formally by invoking the policy with your line manager, a Designated Officer, via the Audit Advisory Division, a record should be made of the key details and a copy may be shared with you.
You are encouraged to provide your name when you make a disclosure under this policy. Your identity can be protected and confidentiality will be respected if subsequent action is taken.
How the Government will respond to a disclosure
Initial confidential interview
Where concerns are raised, whether in writing or otherwise, an initial confidential interview will be arranged between you and the Designated Officer to discuss the matter as soon as practicable. At this stage you will be asked if you are content for your identity as a party disclosing information, to be disclosed during the investigation. You will be reassured about protection from possible reprisals or victimisation and you will also be asked whether or not you wish to make a formal statement. In either case, a brief summary of the interview will be recorded, which will be agreed by both you and the Designated Officer and a copy given to you for your records.
Investigation and case progression
All concerns will then be reported to the Accounting Officer, usually the Chief Executive of your Department, and may be progressed in conjunction with the Director, Audit Advisory Division. Bear in mind, that if investigation leads to criminal or civil proceedings, any information or evidence gathered as part of the investigation, even if it is not subsequently used in the proceedings, may be disclosed as part of the legal obligations of the parties, unless protection is available due to public interest, or other such protection by way of a restraint or injunction which could be granted by the Court. (See Whistleblowing Policy - Your assurance section)
All future internal proceedings will be of a confidential nature. In order to protect individuals and those accused of misdeeds or possible malpractice, initial enquiries will be made to decide whether an investigation is appropriate and, if so, what form it should take. Some concerns may be resolved by agreed action without the need for investigation. If urgent action is required, this will be taken before any substantive investigation is conducted. Consideration of what is in the public interest will be of paramount importance.
- If the concern raised involves the Designated Officer, the Accounting Officer will appoint an alternative Designated Officer
- If the concern involves a Chief Executive, the Minister or Chairperson responsible for that Department, Board or Office will decide how the investigation is to proceed. This may include an external investigation
The action taken will depend upon the nature of the concern. Where appropriate, the matters raised may:
- be investigated internally by management or the Treasury Audit Advisory Division, or through the disciplinary process
- be referred for specialist advice (eg to the Attorney General’s Office)
- be referred to the Police
- be referred to the Director, Audit Advisory Division
- form the subject of an independent inquiry
- be subject to any combination of the above
In order to protect individuals and the Government, initial enquiries will be made to decide whether an investigation is appropriate and, if so, what form it should take. Concerns or allegations that fall within the scope of specific procedures (eg child protection, Fairness at Work or discrimination issues) will normally be referred for consideration under those procedures.
Some concerns may be resolved by agreed action without the need for investigation.
In any case where the preliminary enquiries give grounds for believing that a criminal offence may have been committed, reference should be made to the Disciplinary Procedures laid down in the terms and conditions of the individual who is alleged to have committed the offence.
Contact and communication with the Designated Officer
The Designated Officer will write to you within 10 working days of a concern being raised to:
- acknowledge that the disclosure has been received
- indicate how the matter will be dealt with
- advise you prior to any initial enquiries being made
- advise you whether further investigations are likely to take place and if not, why not
- give an estimate of how long it will take to give you a final response
The amount of contact between the Designated Officer / individual considering the issue and yourself will depend on the nature of the matter raised, the potential difficulties involved and the clarity of the information provided. If necessary, further information will be sought from you.
When any meeting is arranged, you have the right, if you so wish, to be accompanied by a trade union/professional association representative or a work colleague. The meeting can take place at your place of work, at your home, or elsewhere if you wish. The Designated Officer may require a note taker at the meeting and may be accompanied accordingly.
Protecting your identity
If you make a disclosure in confidence under this policy and ask for your identity to be protected, efforts will be made to do so. You must appreciate though that due to the nature of the investigation process it may be vital to proceedings that you make a statement to be included in evidence. If the matter does progress to this stage, and your evidence is required for a disciplinary hearing or police investigation, then you will be advised and supported accordingly. Where possible your witness statements may be anonymised.
The Designated Officer will take steps to help you, as much as possible, to minimise any difficulties which you may experience as a result of raising a concern. For example, if you are required to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings, the Designated Officer will arrange for you to receive advice about such procedures.
The Designated Officer will produce a written report to the Accounting Officer that:
- outlines the complaint
- details the investigation process
- gives the outcome of the investigation
- details recommendations where appropriate
Whilst you may not be given a copy of the full investigation report, the Government does respect your input and will ensure that you are kept as fully informed as possible, so that you can be satisfied that the matter is being properly addressed. Therefore, subject to any legal or other constraints, you will be informed about the investigation and its outcome.