The Confidential Reporting framework is an early warning system that can alert the Council to such things as:-
- someone defrauding the Council;
- faulty machinery or unsafe working practices being used by employees or contractors;
- people abusing their positions via discrimination or harassment;
- illegal activities;
- concerns relating to the treatment of children and vulnerable adults; or
- employees or Members seeking or accepting payments in exchange for work or contracts to a specific supplier or for making a particular decision.
For employees there are other policies available which should be used in preference to the Confidential Reporting Framework depending on the circumstance. For example where they have complaints about harassment, grievances over their employment and health and safety concerns, the reporting routes set out in these policies should be followed.
Confidential reporting is a valuable activity which can be used to inform those who need to know about fraud, corruption, cover-ups and many other problems. It is often only through the receipt of such reports that this information comes to light and can be addressed before real damage is done.
This Confidential Reporting Framework aims to provide a clear, documented process by which people can report concerns to the Council and to give them the assurance that the matter will be handled appropriately and where necessary confidentially.
The Council also has more detailed advice and guidance if your concern related to Fraud, Bribery or Money Laundering. The officers who will receive the initial complaints are the same as below, however, there is additional advice and guidance on how to recognise fraud, bribery and money laundering and the stance the Council takes in relation to these. The policies can be found by following the links on the right hand side of this page.
How to raise a concern
The Council will consider concerns raised verbally or in writing provided that adequate information is provided. However, concerns are best advised in writing setting out the following:-
- background and history to the concern;
- names, dates and places (where possible); and
- the reason you are particularly concerned about the situation.
Although you are not expected to prove the truth of the allegation, you will need to demonstrate to the person you contact that there are sufficient grounds for your concern.
If you would prefer to discuss the issues directly with someone prior to putting them in writing then you can telephone or arrange to meet an appropriate officer.
The following people are the key contacts under this Confidential Reporting Policy and should be contacted if you wish to raise any concerns or for advice under this policy. They will be able to refer the matter to other officers for investigation if relevant:-
- Chief Internal Auditor - 01782 619252 or 01543 464415
- Head of Governance - 01782 619252 or 01543 464411
- S151 Officer (Head of Finance) - 01785 619203
For Housing Benefit Fraud Allegations - National Benefit Fraud Hotline (NBFH), telephone 0800 854 440 or report benefit fraud - gov.uk
Issues relating to the Safeguarding of Children and Vulnerable Adults can be made to:
- the Designated Officer for Safeguarding - 01785 619195 or
- directly to Staffordshire Safeguarding Children's Board via the County Council on 0800 1313126.
How the Council will respond
The Council will notify you (subject to legal constraints) of the final outcomes.
Taking the Matter Further
This policy aims to provide employees and others with an avenue to raise concerns within the Council. It hopes that everyone who chooses to raise a concern under this process will be satisfied with the outcome of the investigation they can make a complaint to the Council's Monitoring Officer.
Individuals may choose to seek advice in relation to the matter from outside the Council; the following are possible contact points:-
- the Council's External Auditors;
- relevant professional bodies/regulatory organisations;
- the Local Government Ombudsman;
- your Solicitor;
- the Police;
- Public Concern at Work;
- Trade Unions;
- Professional Associations.