Raising concerns at Plymouth University (whistleblowing policy)
1. About this policy
1.1: We are committed to the highest standards of openness, honesty and integrity, and to the principles of academic freedom. We expect all members of the University to maintain those standards. However, all organisations face the risk of things going wrong or of being unaware of illegal or unethical behaviour. A culture of openness and accountability is essential to minimise the risk of those situations arising and to deal with them if they do arise.
1.2: Concerns about what is happening at the University can usually be dealt with through the normal channels of communication (through line managers or Talent and Organisational Development) and existing University procedures, as part of a commitment to continuous improvement. However, there may be times when members of the University feel that using existing procedures would be inappropriate or could in some way put their own position at risk. In those circumstances, this policy provides an alternative.
1.3: The aims of this policy are to:
- encourage people to report suspected wrongdoing as soon as possible without fear of reprisal (even if their concerns turn out to be mistaken)
- make people aware of how to raise concerns
- protect people who raise concerns from repercussions as a result of having done so;
- put in place appropriate procedures to investigate concerns, and
- make sure that concerns are dealt with in a transparent and confidential way.
2. Responsibility for this policy
2.1: The Board of Governors has overall responsibility for this policy, and for reviewing both how it works and how effective it is.
Registrar and Secretary is responsible for managing the policy and for keeping a confidential record of all concerns raised and investigations carried out. Every year they will make a report to the Board on concerns raised, investigations made and outcomes. The report will not contain the names of those involved.
2.3: All members of the University are welcome to comment on this policy and suggest ways in which we could improve it. If you have any comments, suggestions or questions, you should address them to the
Registrar and Secretary Gordon Stewart, Chairman or Senior Independent Governor. Please visit our Board of Governors website for information about Board officers including contact details or use the governance email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. What does this policy cover?
3.1: This policy covers raising concerns about what is happening at the University, often referred to as whistleblowing. Whistleblowing is the term that is used for reporting information which relates to suspected wrongdoing or dangers at work. This may include:
- financial mismanagement or fraud
- corruption, bribery or blackmail
- unethical, unlawful or criminal activity
- breaking confidentiality or security measures
- failing to keep to legal or regulatory requirements, or our policies and procedures
- danger to the health and safety of any person or damage to the environment
- trying to prevent staff exercising their right to the academic freedom to question and test received wisdom and to put forward new ideas or controversial or unpopular opinions within the University (or trying to make it more difficult for staff to do that)
- a miscarriage of justice
- professional mismanagement or negligence, or
- deliberately covering up any of these matters.
3.2: You should not normally use this procedure for complaints about your own personal circumstances, which should be dealt with under the relevant HR policies and procedures.
3.3: If you have any questions about what can be dealt with under this policy, you can raise these confidentially with the Registrar and Secretary or Senior Independent Governor.
3.4: Please see Appendix 2 for details of other sources of advice and information, and the laws relating to whistleblowing.
4. Who can raise a concern under this policy?
4.1: You can raise a concern under this policy if you are a member of staff, a currently registered student, a Students’ Union sabbatical officer, a consultant, a contractor, an intern, an agency worker or a member of the Board of Governors or any of its subcommittees.
5.1: We expect that any concerns will be raised without malice and in good faith. In return, we will take concerns seriously, investigate them appropriately and will not tolerate repercussions against anyone who has raised a genuine concern under this policy.
5.2: We do not encourage anonymous complaints, since it is likely to be more difficult, or even impossible, for us to deal with these if we cannot ask you for more information as necessary, and we will not be able to report back to you on the outcome of any investigation. This does not mean that we will ignore anonymous concerns that are raised, just that it may be more difficult to deal with these unless there is other evidence which an investigation could uncover.
5.3: If you do not want your identity to be revealed, we will do what we can to keep your details confidential. We will let you know if this is not possible (because, for example, we need to give details of the complaint to someone who may be involved in the matter and that may allow them to guess your identity, or because you will need to give evidence as a witness).