Whistleblowing policy

Our official guidelines for whistleblowing

Approved: 12 March 2022
Version: 3
Content owner: Safe Practice

If you think something’s wrong, say so.

As valued staff, volunteers and members you are all part of an organisation that encourages openness and is committed to the highest standards of behaviour and accountability - and it’s important that you are too.

By using the whistleblowing policy - which supports people who raise a serious concern - you help Girlguiding give girls a great guiding experience, by making sure we uphold the law, our polices, values and code of conduct.

Don’t be worried about telling someone. Our whistleblowing policy makes sure that you will be listened to with respect, and taken seriously. We will take all reasonable steps to treat what you say confidentially. So if you have a serious concern please tell us, don’t ignore it.

You must also read the whistleblowing procedures, along with this policy.

Policy aims and purpose 

Whistleblowing means reporting certain types of wrongdoing you could come across at Girlguiding, so we can do something about it. 

We know speaking up might seem scary. This Whistleblowing policy is here to make sure everyone involved in Girlguiding feels safe and confident to report wrongdoing.  

It sets out how Girlguiding will take any concern you report seriously, encourages you to share your worries if you think something is wrong, and will protect you if you make a report.  

The policy is for all our volunteers, members, parents, carers and members of staff. This includes contractors and consultants. It applies to all Girlguiding settings and activities in the UK, including unit meetings, events and workplaces. It also covers British Girlguiding Overseas (BGO). 

Sometimes, we might use a different policy to deal with your concerns. Our Whistleblowing policy sits alongside our Safeguarding, Complaints, Managing concerns about adult volunteers and Anti-bullying and harassment policies.  

Anyone who makes a disclosure will be listened to, taken seriously, and protected from negative treatment.  

Using this policy means you’re helping Girlguiding stay in line with the law, our policies, values, and code of conduct – all really important parts of giving girls a great guiding experience. 

Definitions used in this policy 

Whistleblowing means speaking up about the types of wrongdoing below: 

  • A criminal offence 
  • The breach of a legal obligation 
  • A miscarriage of justice 
  • A danger to someone’s health and safety 
  • Damage to the environment 
  • A deliberate attempt to conceal any of the above 

Whistleblowing is more formally known as ‘making a disclosure in the public interest’. Someone who speaks up to blow the whistle is known as a ‘whistleblower’.  

Making a disclosure is when you make a report to Girlguiding or a body like the Charity Commission about your ‘reasonable belief’ that one of the things above is taking place. You could also believe it may take place in the future. You must believe it’s in the ‘public interest’ to report it. 

Reasonable belief means that you don’t have to be right about what you report. You just need to believe it’s true or have a good reason to think that disclosing it is in the ‘public interest’.  

Repeating gossip or making allegations dishonestly or spitefully is not considered whistleblowing. 

Public interest means that you shouldn’t make a disclosure for personal gain. The following factors will be considered when working out if someone made a disclosure with the reasonable belief that it was in the public interest: 

  • How many people the disclosure affects 
  • Which interests the disclosure affects 
  • The nature of the wrongdoing or concern 
  • The identity of the alleged wrongdoer or subject of concern 

Good faith means that when you make a disclosure, you must believe it’s substantially true. You mustn’t act maliciously, make allegations you know are false, or seek any personal gain. 

Policy statement 

Girlguiding is committed to openness, and the highest standards of behaviour and accountability. Our members, volunteers and staff play a huge role in this. This policy sets out how you can play your part. 

If you think something is wrong, you must say so.  

We expect all Girlguiding members, volunteers, and staff to: 

  • Report all concerns using the correct policies and procedures, and in good faith 
  • Report any wrongdoing, intentional or unintentional, using the correct policies and procedures, and in good faith 
  • Never stop or discourage someone from making a disclosure 
  • Never criticise or victimise anyone for making a disclosure 
  • Comply with all applicable UK laws and guidance 
  • For BGO, comply with all applicable laws and guidance for your country 

Volunteers must read our Whistleblowing procedure. This explains how to make a disclosure, and what happens when you do. There’s a separate Whistleblowing procedure for staff, available on the intranet or from your country and region manager. 

We may not be able to keep your concern completely confidential. But we’ll do our best to protect anyone making a disclosure, no matter what, or who, it’s about. 

We’ll handle any disclosure you make using the most suitable policy.  

Girlguiding’s commitment to protecting whistleblowers 

If you raise a concern in good faith using this policy, we’re completely committed to supporting you, even if it turns out to be unfounded or doesn’t meet the criteria of a serious concern. We don’t need evidence to look into a disclosure, only your reasonable belief that something may be happening. However, evidence and information will help us investigate, so our investigator may ask for any you have.  

We take all reasonable steps to protect whistleblowers from any negative treatment as a result of their report. We treat all concerns consistently, fairly and professionally.  

This policy is in line with the Employment Rights Act 1996. The Act gives whistleblowers legal protection from negative treatment as a result of raising a concern. This includes dismissal, disciplinary action, threats or other unfavourable treatment. 

While the Act only covers ‘workers’, this policy covers volunteers too. It aims to protect volunteers just as much as staff.  

If you’ve made a disclosure and believe you’ve suffered or will suffer any negative treatment, you should tell HQ as soon as you can. 

We may suspend or withdraw the membership of anyone trying to stop or discourage you from making a disclosure. The same goes for anyone who criticises or victimises you after you’ve reported your concern. We’ll discipline members and volunteers under our Managing concerns about adult volunteers policy, and staff in line with our Disciplinary procedure.  

We treat information we receive as part of our Whistleblowing policy sensitively, and in line with our Managing information policy. 

We treat all whistleblowing reports as confidential. We only share them with people who need to know. We won’t share your identity unless you agree to this. 

When shouldn’t I use the Whistleblowing policy and procedure? 

For safeguarding concerns

You must follow our Safeguarding policy and procedure to report any safeguarding concerns. However, if you believe that Girlguiding hasn’t addressed a safeguarding issue appropriately, you can make a disclosure using the Whistleblowing policy and procedure. 

For complaints

A complaint is an expression of your dissatisfaction which calls for a response. If you want to make a complaint about Girlguiding you should use our Complaints policy. 

For concerns about another organisation

If you have concerns about the behaviour of another organisation you should raise them with that organisation. You should follow their whistleblowing procedures, if they have them. 

For grievances (for members of staff only)

If you’re unhappy about the treatment you’ve received or about any aspect of your work, follow the staff Grievance procedure. You can find this on the intranet. 

Related documents and information 

Related policies, procedures and guidance 

For members of staff only

  • Bribery Act policy  
  • Whistleblowing procedure 
  • Grievance procedure 
  • Disciplinary procedure 

Other information and useful resources