Whistleblowing: Time for change
On 1 August 2016 Public Concern at Work released a review of the charity’s activities looking back over the past five years. The review, ‘Whistleblowing: Time for change’, highlights:
• The ongoing difficulties experienced by whistleblowers via multiple interviews with workers who have spoken up including: blacklisting by a regulator; manipulation of crime figures in the police; and courtroom battles with the NHS.
• Four out of five whistleblowers experience negative final outcomes.
• Seeking advice at an early stage is the most effective action a whistleblower can take (positive outcomes doubled), however 70% of workers seek advice after they have blown the whistle.
• A small continuous drop in the number of individuals who say they would raise a concern about serious malpractice.
• Public Concern at Work is seeking urgent action from government to improve the practice of organisations by placing PCaW’s Code of Practice for whistleblowing arrangements on a statutory footing.
In addition to the in-depth look at how our advice line operates, we also highlight our major pieces of research over the past five years including ‘The Whistleblowing Commission: Report on the effectiveness of existing arrangements for workplace whistleblowing in the UK’, ‘Whistleblowing: The inside story’, and ‘PIDA: Is the law protecting whistleblowers?’ as well as our work with organisations including the promotion of our whistleblowing Code of Practice and our First 100 campaign. We highlight our lobbying efforts to secure stronger legal protection for whistleblowers and the prevailing view of those who bring claims under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA), that the law is failing. Finally we look at our ongoing policy objectives, identifying some of the very real challenges faced by whistleblowers in the UK including the need to strengthen PIDA, to eradicate blacklisting, ensure greater protection to more categories of workers and some of the legal threats posed to whistleblowers.
Cathy James OBE, Chief Executive of PCaW said:
“Over the past five years the landscape for whistleblowers has changed immensely. There has never been a time when whistleblowers have been held in such high regard by the public – with widespread support of the view that whistleblowers are performing a public service. There has been legal reform, promising greater protection for whistleblowers and generating greater requirements on regulators. But this is a tale of two sides. While ostensibly the situation for whistleblowers has improved, we are still seeing so much harm, in all parts of our society, where effective whistleblowing could have resulted in early detection and prevention of wrongdoing.
“Our review highlights an urgent need for action to change the outcomes for whistleblowers. For too long we have relied on brave individuals who rightly fear serious consequences for doing the right thing. More individuals should be made aware of their rights and access to support and organisations must improve how they encourage, support and protect staff who speak up. We cannot afford another public disaster because an organisation failed to ensure their staff could speak up and be heard.”