This petition, calling on the Scottish Government to support the introduction of staff whistle-blower hotlines to report mismanagement in Scottish local authorities, with reports overseen by councillors from each party, was lodged in August 2013. It can be viewed here.
It failed. The Committee wrote to all Councils, who replied indicating that they all had arrangements in place. Some used the useless PCAW helpline, many just had a whistleblowing policy. Only Edinburgh Council had a proper independent hotline (thanks to Kids not Suits). The Committee decided that it could not tell Councils what to do, so no action was taken.
But the petition itself was not pointless, for it highlighted the issue. And it gave KnS the knowledge to use the system to lodge 3 more petitions in March 2016.
Here is some history of how the campaign progressed:
How Councils Shape Your World. And why whistleblowers can keep it safe.
In support, the Journal for Democracy and Open Government published the petitioner’s paper “When Government Goes Wrong, Let the Whistle Blow!” on July 2nd 2013. Read it there.
The Scottish Review published the KnS article in August 2013 supporting the petition entitled “The Culture that Made the Tram’s Fiasco Possible”- click here to be sent a copy
Sunday Daily Express
The petition was covered in the Sunday Daily Express article of 30th June 2013.
The petitoner’s representative , Marco Biaggi MSP of the SNP, said:
“Under Scottish Government guidance on Best Value, local authorities must ensure:
“That effective procedures are in place to help ensure that members and employees comply with relevant codes of conduct and policies. This includes ensuring that appropriate policies on fraud prevention, investigation and ‘whistleblowing’ are established.”
The Scottish Government approach leaves the decision on how they do this to each council.”
“I believe that every council should have an adequate whistleblowing line set up. The petitioner’s approach has some clear merits. I would hope the City of Edinburgh Council could take a serious look at what its advantages, disadvantages and costs are before taking a decision on whether to go ahead.”
Shadow Minister for Employee Rights, Ian Murray MP (Labour representative for Edinburgh South), said:
“Whistleblowing is an important mechanism for allowing staff to raise legitimate concerns. I would hope that Edinburgh Council would consider more robust procedures if the current system they are proposing does not deliver the objectives for it that they have set.”
Neil Findlay MSP for the Lothians (Labour) said:
“I agree with the principle of this. The recent bullying and harassment report about NHS Lothian highlighted the need to support for staff who are being bullied, harassed or victimised. Staff have to know there is a system in place that can be used with confidence. This petition highlights very important issues that public bodies need to address.”
“We leave unmolested those who set the fire to the house, and prosecute those who sound the alarm.”
– Nicolas Chamfort (French Playwright, 1741-1794)