Have Your Say

‘Have your say’ is Community Care’s new online
discussion forum which gives people the opportunity to air views on
a controversial issue.

This week’s issue is whistleblowing after a draft code
to be implemented by the new General Social Care Council requires
social care staff to blow the whistle on colleagues who abuse or
exploit clients. Read a full report by clicking


Would you be prepared to be a whistleblower? Do you
think there are enough safeguards to protect

Have you say by simply clicking on the e-mail link at
foot of this page.


I work as network co-ordinator and voluntary
advocate for Freedom to Care, and have had contact with many
whistleblowers in social care. Our experience is that the
suppression of whistleblowers and their subsequent loss of jobs is
common, and we had expected things to improve after the Public
Interest Disclosure Act came into force in July 1999.

However, we are finding disquieting trends, even in local
authorities with whistleblowing procedures. In one, evidenced
sexual and physical abuse of children in youth service facilities
has been suppressed so that the original whistleblower (a child
care social worker who worked part-time for the youth service) has
apparently been sufficiently intimidated to now deny that the
detailed allegations she put on paper to her managers were

In another authority an experienced residential worker made a
complaint about inappropriate grooming behaviour by a male
volunteer of a teenage female in her children’s home. But a girl
made a complaint against the worker for swearing. The worker was
suspended and her concerns about grooming dropped. After eight
months the worker has finally been reinstated, and the charges
dropped, but her complaint has not been dealt with.

Is there a culture developing in the worst authorities where the
whistleblowing procedure becomes a mechanism for senior managers,
wanting nothing to ruffle the calm sea of their authority, to
identify “troublemakers” early on so that their concerns can be
buried in counter charges?

One local authority in Wales has even constructively dismissed
its own internal auditor for producing evidence of financial,
property, and other malpractices, some of them in the social
services department. The disposal of such a senior figure gives an
intimidating message to the rest of staff…”This is what happens
if you speak out…Do you really want to try it?”

We have some doubt that monitoring whistleblowing can be left to
the internal operations of an authority; we are on record as
seriously criticising the monitoring officer system, where this
officer is usually the authority’s own solicitor and may be dealing
with complaints against his/her own advice.

Lambeth’s use of Expolink is a step forward, but the reality is
that even anonymised whistleblowers can usually be detected,
because the area of concern will narrow things down to a few staff
in the know on that issue- and usually a good staff member will
have tried to deal with the just concern through internal routes
before going outside to such as Expolink- and the Public Interest
Disclosure Act would usually require that you exhaust internal
routes first- thus ensuring that you expose yourself to a malignant
and vengeful management…

From Freedom to Care’s caseload, this is no exaggeration, I
assure you.

What is needed is punitive sanctions for those who harass those
who raise concerns in good faith and are then savaged for it. How
about the GSCC (General Social Care Council) having the power to
de-register even senior social services department managers for
such behaviour- as we understand they will have the power to
register/de-register social workers, etc? Now that would be a real
commitment to ethical practice in social

Chris Clode








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