The Government’s third update of its progress to the UK Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017-2022 has been published, and acknowledges a failure to review the whistleblowing framework is ‘due to resources being prioritised for the pandemic response.’
Launched in December 2017 the Strategy aims to support national security, prosperity and trust in institutions. It sets out a longer-term vision of anti-corruption action leading to:
- reduced threats to our national security
- stronger economic opportunities (especially for British business)
- greater public trust and confidence in our institutions.
The Report states that “the government takes its commitment to high ethical standards very seriously” and highlights ongoing work to consider the Boardman review of supply chain finances, the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s recent review, and other work on public appointments and transparency in lobbying.
Whistleblowing formed a vital part of the strategy. Goal 2 under the priority of “promoting integrity across the public and private sector” was to deliver “a more open government that is trusted by citizens, with robust protections for whistleblowers”. A review of the whisteblowing framework, and a review of the effectiveness of BEIS’s Code of Practice and Whistleblowing Guidance for Employers are 2 of the 7 areas (out of 134) described as “off track with deadline(s) expected to be missed and/or with serious risk to delivery”.
The Strategy states: ‘Preparations for a review of the wider whistleblowing landscape has begun, but pace has been slower due to resources being prioritised for the pandemic response. Ahead of deciding on the precise scope of the review, we would also want to consider wider sources of evidence and good practice regarding whistleblowing which have been generated in the period since we made these Commitments.’
Andrew Pepper-Parsons Head of Policy, Protect said, “The delay – given the impact of the pandemic – is understandable but there is no plan in this update for how the Government are going to make progress on launching a review of whistleblowing. What is disappointing is there appears to be no plan to achieve this commitment. We hope that more detail on the scope and timetable of the review will be forthcoming in early 2022.”
Research has shown the importance of whistleblowing in the fight against economic crime with 43% of all fraud is detected via tips, of which at least 50% are known to have come from whistleblowers.