Our official guidelines for whistleblowing
Approved: 10 June 2019
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.
What is the Girlguiding whistleblowing policy for?
As Girlguiding staff (including contractors, consultants, agency and casual workers), volunteers and members, this Girlguiding whistleblowing policy is for you, to use to let us know about serious concerns.
It explains how you should tell us about a concern, what we will do about it and how we will try to keep things confidential.
You should follow all Girlguiding policies and procedures and re-read them from time to time as they may be amended.
Volunteers should refer to the whistleblowing procedures published on this website, and staff (including contractors, consultants, agency and casual workers) should refer to the whistleblowing policy and procedure on the staff intranet.
What does the law says about whistleblowing?
If you bring information about a serious concern to the attention of your employer or a relevant organisation, you are protected in certain circumstances under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (‘the Act’). This is commonly referred to as 'blowing the whistle' and you are referred to as a ‘whistleblower’. The law that protects whistleblowers is for the public interest - so people can speak out if they find a serious concern in an organisation, without fear of reprisal or detriment.
What concerns are legally protected by the Whistleblowing Act?
To use the Girlguiding whistleblowing policy and be legally protected under the Act, you must make a disclosure about a serious concern. This is known under the Act as a ‘qualifying disclosure’. This means you have information and reasonably believe that one or more of the following matters is happening, has taken place, or is likely to happen in the future:
- A criminal offence
- The breach of a legal obligation
- A miscarriage of justice
- A danger to the health and safety of any individual
- Damage to the environment
- A deliberate attempt to conceal any of the above
The Act does not cover volunteers, but Girlguiding’s policy does cover volunteers and aims to provide similar protection as the Act.
What does the Girlguiding whistleblowing policy not cover?
The Girlguiding whistleblowing policy doesn’t apply if you have a complaint or a concern about safeguarding or about an organisation that's not Girlguiding.
How should I use the whistleblowing policy?
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.
Concerns about other organisation - If you have concerns about the behaviour of another organisation you should raise them through that organisation, following any whistleblowing procedures it has.
When should I use the whistleblowing policy?
We encourage you to raise your concerns as soon as you have them rather than wait for proof, so we can look into things straight away.
Can I keep my whistleblowing confidential?
We treat information received as part of Girlguiding’s whistleblowing policy sensitively and in line with the Managing information policy.
We also treat your concerns in confidence and where possible Girlguiding will not reveal your identity if you wish. However, Girlguiding does encourage you to put your name to your concern because proper investigation may be more difficult or impossible if we can’t get further information from you. It is also more difficult to establish whether your allegations are credible.
How am I protected as a whistleblower?
It is understandable that you may be worried about possible repercussions. We aim to encourage openness and will support anyone who raises genuine concerns under this policy, even if the concerns turn out to be unfounded. We will take all reasonable steps to protect whistleblowers from reprisal or victimisation.
As a whistleblower you must not suffer any harmful treatment as a result of raising your concern. This includes dismissal, disciplinary action, threats or other unfavourable treatment. If you believe you have suffered or will suffer any such treatment, you should tell HQ immediately.
Anyone trying to stop or discourage you from whistleblowing, or who criticises or victimises you after you’ve reported your concern may be suspended or have their membership withdrawn under the managing adult volunteers policy if they are a member or volunteer, or be disciplined if they are a member of staff.
Is there anyone else I can report my concerns to?
In some circumstances it may be appropriate for you to report your concerns to an external body - such as a regulator - instead of to Girlguiding. It will very rarely, if ever, be appropriate to alert the media. We strongly encourage you to seek advice before reporting a concern to anyone external.
There is an independent charity called Protect that operates a confidential helpline. They also have a list of regulators you can report certain concerns to. You can find their contact details at the end of this policy.