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Whistleblowers lift the lid on complaints at Doncaster Council

Doncaster Council received 14 complaints from whistleblowers
Doncaster Council received 14 complaints from whistleblowers

Allegations of unlawful behaviour, health and safety breaches and fraudulent activity have all been raised by whistleblowers within Doncaster Council.

Allegations of unlawful behaviour, health and safety breaches and fraudulent activity have all been raised by whistleblowers within Doncaster Council.

Figures provided under the Freedom of Information Act show local authority bosses received 14 complaints about dealings within council departments in four years.

The majority of complaints were investigated fully by senior staff but the majority led to no further action.

In 2013/2014, the council received three whistle blowing complaints, all within the former children's services set up.

Two were taken on and investigated but both complaints, one alleging unlawful behaviour and a breach of health and safety, 'had no substance'.

The following year, council chiefs didn't receive any whistleblowing complaints but during 2015/2016, eight issues were raised to bosses.

A member of staff resigned after allegations arose of 'fraudulent alteration of a formal document'.

Action points were recommended after a whistleblower complained about processes within a council education team while safeguarding concerns were raised at a Doncaster day care centre.

Policies were also amended after a member of staff blew the whistle alleging financial concerns and a complaint about the planning department was also looked at.

Concerns were also raised about staffing in the regeneration and environment team. The matter was investigated but 'no misfeasance was found'.

Bosses received an anonymous complaint alleging misuse of grant funding. This was investigated through an internal audit but 'no issues of concern' were found.

A member of staff also alleged a third party was awarded a council contract unfairly. The matter was investigated and improvements in procedures were recommended but 'no untoward pratice' was found.

The following year during 2016/2017 a health and safety issue was raised around Doncaster markets. The matter was investigated by legal services and recommendations were made.

A complaint was made over the safeguarding process of an employee. The matter was investigated by legal services and and recommendations were made to HR to improve processes.

Whistleblowing - what it means

If employees raise an alleged wrongdoing with their employer, they are protected in certain circumstances under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

The law protects whistleblowers if they are raising an issue in the public interest. They can claim unfair dismissal if they are dismissed or victimised for doing so.

‘Public interest’ means that whistleblowing cannot be used to challenge financial and business decsions properly taken by Doncaster.

An employee can act if they reasonably believes that one or more of the following is happening, has taken place, or is likely to happen in the future: A criminal offence Failure to comply with any legal obligation Fraud, theft or corruption A danger to the health and safety of the general public or other employees Damage to the environment