1. Introduction

1.1. Whistleblowing is the term used when someone who works in or for an organisation wishes to raise concerns about:

  • Malpractice,
  • Wrongdoing,
  • Illegality or
  • Risk in the organisation (for example, crimes, civil offences, miscarriages of justice, dangers to health and safety)

1.2. Whistleblowing may also include the cover up of any of the above concerns. Whistleblowing applies to raising a concern within the organisation as well as externally, such as to a regulator.

2. Legal Basis

2.1. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, known as the Whistleblowing Act, is intended to promote internal and regulatory disclosures and encourage workplace accountability and self-regulation. Even in circumstances where the Act does not apply, the policy is to follow ‘best practice’ and work ‘in the spirit of the UK practice’ within BFG/EJSU.

2.2. The Act protects the public interest by providing a remedy for individuals who suffer workplace reprisal for raising a genuine concern, whether it is a concern about child safeguarding and welfare systems, financial malpractice, danger, illegality, or other wrongdoing. The concern may relate to something that is happening or has happened in the past or something that you fear may happen in the future.

3. Information about how to Raise a Concern

3.1. All agencies should ensure that they have in place their own internal whistleblowing policy accessible to all staff. This policy should provide guidance in relation to defining their organisational stance on whistleblowing and outline the procedures which staff and volunteers should follow.

4. Whistleblowing, Complaints and Grievances

4.1. Whistleblowing is very different from a complaint or a grievance. The term ‘whistleblowing’ usually applies when a person is acting as a witness to misconduct or malpractice that they have observed, and which threatens other people.

4.2. A grievance is when an employee has a dispute about their own circumstances relating to their employment. Anyone who meets this criterion should follow their organisation’s procedures in relation to grievances.

4.3. A complaint is where a person, or a person close to the complainant, has personally been poorly treated and are seeking redress or justice for themselves or that person. In these circumstances the person making the complaint should follow their relevant agency / organisation’s complaints procedures. If the complaint is in relation to the work of the British Forces Germany Safeguarding Board (BFG SB) then the BFG complaints procedure should be followed. Please refer to SIBFG 3300. This is used for any social care complaints.

5. Duty to disclose concerns

5.1. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility as identified in Working together to Safeguard Children (WTSC, 2018) Every employee working with children has a duty and responsibility to disclose any concerns about the conduct of another professional.

5.2. It is important that this practice guidance should be followed in accordance with other BFGSB policies and procedures. Professionals in all agencies have a responsibility to refer a child to BFSWS when it is believed or suspected that a child:

  • Has suffered significant harm and /or;
  • Is likely to suffer significant harm and/or;
  • Has developmental and / or welfare needs which are likely only to be met through provision of support services (with agreement of the child's parent).

For further information on how to make a referral to BFSWS, please see the BFGSB website (safeguarding/procedures/core/chapter2.html).

  • Whistleblowing is a protective disclosure and, if made in good faith, should not result in any form of detriment to the worker.
  • If a member of staff believes that what he/she is saying is true, they should have nothing to fear as he / she will be doing their duty to their employer and those for whom they are providing a service.
  • Bullying, harassment or victimisation (including informal pressures) by other members of staff towards someone who raises concerns should not be tolerated by agencies. Senior management in agencies should take appropriate action to protect their staff or volunteers who raise a concern in good faith. Examples of unacceptable practice include retaliation such as:
  • Frequent and undesirable changes in work assigned; Unsubstantiated disciplinary action; Unjust denial of promotion or transfer.
  • If the concerns relate to a person(s) in the same agency, that agency's reporting procedures should be followed.
  • If the concerns relate to a person/person from another agency, the person raising the concerns should contact a senior manager within his/her own agency, and a decision be made as to how the concern will be addressed, and by whom. It is the responsibility of the senior manager within the agency of the person raising the concern to ensure that a response is received from the agency to which the concern relates.
  • The person raising the concern and his/her senior manager must maintain a written record of events which give rise to the concern and of subsequent actions and responses.

6. Confidentiality

6.1. All concerns should be treated in confidence and the identity of a member of staff or volunteer should not generally be revealed without the consent of the person raising the concern. In some cases, confidentiality may not be possible, for example when reporting abuse or a criminal offence, as action may need to be taken and the person reporting the concerns may be needed to provide evidence in disciplinary or criminal proceedings. Staff should be consulted and kept informed if it does become necessary to reveal their identity.

7. Anonymous Allegations

7.1. Whenever possible, staff and volunteers should be prepared to put their name to an allegation. Concerns expressed anonymously are much harder to investigate but should be considered by senior managers in the organisation. In exercising this discretion, the factors to be considered would include:

  • The seriousness of the issues raised;
  • The credibility of the concern; and
  • The likelihood of confirming the allegation from other sources.

8. Managers

8.1. Managers have a responsibility to ensure that concerns are taken seriously. Where appropriate they should investigate and make an objective assessment of the concern. They also have a responsibility to ensure that the action necessary to resolve a concern is taken.

9. How Agencies Should Respond

9.1. Agencies should respond to any concern raised. How they respond may vary, for example depending on whether they are a public or voluntary sector agency. Where appropriate, the matters raised may:

  • Be investigated by management, internal audit, or through the disciplinary process;
  • Be investigated under another procedure, e.g. child / adult protection;
  • Be reported to the organisation's Standards or Management Committee;
  • Be referred to the Police;
  • Be referred to an external auditor;
  • Form the subject of an independent inquiry

9.2. In accordance with WTSC, 2018, a referral should be sent to SO1 Safeguarding where an organisation has received an allegation that a volunteer or member of staff who works with children has:

  • behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
  • possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or
  • behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children
  • Any referral should be made within one working day using the Allegations Management Referral Form, giving as much detail as possible. Completed Allegation Management Referral Forms should be emailed using secured mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For a copy of the referral form and informal discussion, SO1 Safeguarding can be contacted on civilian number 0521 92542683 or mil: 812683 during office hours.
  • Where there is an immediate threat to a child or young person, the Police should be contacted along with the BFSWS Emergency Duty Team (if outside office hours) 0800 7243176.
  • The person reporting the concern should receive, in writing:
  • An acknowledgment that the concern has been received; Indication of how the matter will be dealt with
  • Where applicable:
  • Information on staff support mechanisms;
  • Contact details of the person dealing with your concern (in some organisations this will be a Whistleblowing Contact).

9.7. For more information regarding managing allegations against staff please see the “BFGSB Managing Allegations Against Staff guidance” which is available for all to access at:

10. Monitoring Concerns

10.1. Organisations should monitor concerns raised through whistleblowing and take action accordingly. This includes reviewing these procedures.

11. Untrue Allegations

11.1. If a member of staff or volunteer makes an allegation in good faith, but the allegation is not confirmed by any subsequent investigation, no action should be taken against them. However, agencies may consider disciplinary action where it is believed that an employee has made an allegation frivolously, maliciously or for personal gain.

12. Support for Employees

12.1. Agencies should offer support, either in-house or external, to staff or volunteers who raise concerns.

13. Related Procedures

13.1. A number of organisational policies relate to whistleblowing. It is recommended that agencies have policies and procedures to address concerns relating to:

  • Work related grievance;
  • Bullying and harassment;
  • Equal opportunities;
  • Health and safety.

14. Internal Disclosures

14.1. Organisations should provide advice or information, either through their Human Recourses Department or on their organisation's intranet. Some organisations may choose to have contact persons that can be contacted about concerns.

15. External Contacts

15.1. The below table provides external contacts for those who would like to discuss their concerns with someone outside their agency and the matters they would be able to help with.



Contact Details

The Care Quality Commission

(Ensures hospitals, care homes, dental and general practices and other care services in England provide people with safe, effective and high-quality care

CQC National Customer Service Centre
Newcastle upon Tyne

Tel: (03000) 616161
Fax: (03000) 616171

Website:  https://www.cqc.org.uk/ 

Certification Officer

(fraud and other irregularities, relating to the financial affairs of trade unions and employers' associations)

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Certification Office
Lower Ground Floor
Fleet bank House
2-6 Salisbury Square

Charity Commission

(Administration of charities and of funds given or held for charitable purposes)

Charity Commission for England and Wales
PO Box 211
L20 7YX 

Telephone: 03000 66 9197

Website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/charity-commission

Criminal Cases Review Commission

(Actual or potential miscarriages of justice)

5 St Philips Place
B3 2PW

Telephone: 0121 233 1473
Fax: 0121 232 0899

For information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Environment Agency

(Acts or omissions which have an actual or potential effect on the environment)

National Customer Contact Centre
PO Box 544
S60 1BY

Telephone: 03708 506 506

Minicom service, for the hard of hearing: 03702 422 549 National Customer Contact Centre.

Email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

General Medical Council

(Regulated for setting standards for doctors and managing the UK medical register)

General Medical Council
3 Hardman Street,
M3 3AW

Tel: (0161) 923 6602

email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

HM Customs and Excise

(VAT, insurance premium tax, excise duties, landfill tax, import and export of prohibited or restricted goods)

HMRC Fraud Hotline
CF14 5ZN
United Kingdom 

Tel: 0800 788 887

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS)

(independently assesses police forces and policing across activity from neighbourhood teams)

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services
6th Floor
Globe House
89 Eccleston Square

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Telephone on 020 3513 0500; or
Fax on 020 3513 0650

Health and Safety Executive

(Health and safety at work)

The Lateral,
8 City Walk,
LS11 9AT  

To contact a named individual in HSE you can call our Advisory team on 0300 003 1747 during office hours - 8.30am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, Wednesday 10.00am to 5.00pm. 

Website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/  

Health and Care Professions Council

Tel: 0300 500 6184

Website: https://www.hcpc-uk.org/


Health and Care Professions Council
184 Kennington Park House Road
SE11 4BU 


(Have significant statutory powers to ensure the voice of the consumer is strengthened and heard by those who commission, deliver and regulate health and care services)

Healthwatch England
National Customer Service Centre
Newcastle upon Tyne

Tel: (03000) 68 3000

Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Website: https://www.healthwatch.co.uk/  

The Information Commissioner

(Compliance with data protection legislation)

Website: https://ico.org.uk/  



Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Tel: 0303 123 1113 

Inland Revenue

(Other tax issues, national insurance, SSP, SMP)

Tel: 0300 200 3300

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

(Council maladministration)

53-55 Butts Rd

Tel: 0300 061 0614

If , please use the complaint form


(Protect and promote the interests of patients)

Wellington House
133-155 Waterloo Road
SE1 8UG 

Tel: (0203) 747 0000 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Nursing / Midwifery Council

(Regulator for nursing and midwifery)

Nursing and Midwifery Council
23 Portland Place

General enquiries: 020 7637 7181

Registration enquiries: (0207) 333 9333

Website: http://www.nmc.org.uk/

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Tel: 0300 123 1231



Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Piccadilly Gate
Store Street
M1 2WD

Public Sector Audit Appointments

(responsible for appointing auditors to local government, police and local NHS bodies, for setting audit fees and for making arrangements for the certification of housing benefit subsidy claims)

You can also write to:

PSAA Limited
18 Smith Square

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Tel: (0207) 072 7445 

Website: https://www.psaa.co.uk/  

NHS Trust Development Authority

(Provides support, oversight and governance for all NHS Trusts)

The Contact NHS Trust Development Central Authority

Wellington House
133-155 Waterloo Road
105 Victoria Street
Greater London

Tel: 0300 123 2257

Website: http://www.ntda.nhs.uk

pdfWhistleblowing Practice Guidance