Confidential reporting (whistle blowing) policy


The Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards 2011 standard 19 says,

‘There is a whistle-blowing policy which is made known to all staff, volunteers, foster carers and panel members. This makes it a clear duty for such people to report to an appropriate authority any circumstances within the fostering service which they consider likely to significantly harm the safety, rights or welfare of any child placed by the service’ (19.6)


Beacon Fostering defines whistle blowing as the disclosure by a member of staff, volunteer, fostering panel central list member, other person working for the agency, foster carer, child/young person, or a person outside the agency, of confidential information that refers to danger, fraud or other illegal or unethical behaviour associated with our work. This disclosure of malpractice can be made about another colleague or about Beacon Fostering itself.

Employees are often the first to realise that there may be something seriously wrong within an organisation. However, they may not express their concerns because they feel that speaking up would be disloyal to their colleagues or to the organisation. They may also fear harassment or victimisation. In these circumstances, it may feel easier to ignore the concern rather than report what may just be a suspicion of malpractice.

Beacon Fostering is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, probity and accountability. In line with that commitment, we expect employees and others with whom we deal who have serious concerns about any aspect of the Agency’s work to come forward and voice those concerns. It is recognised that most cases will have to proceed on a confidential basis.

This policy document makes it clear that you can make a disclosure without fear of victimisation, subsequent discrimination, or disadvantage. This Confidential Reporting or ‘Whistle Blowing’ policy is intended to encourage and enable employees to raise serious concerns within the Agency.

The policy applies to all employees and volunteers, and those contractors and their staff working for Beacon Fostering on our premises; for example, agency staff, builders and drivers. It also covers providers of works, services and supplies, including Beacon Fostering’s external contractors and those providing services under a contract in their own premises; for example, foster homes.


It is a requirement of the Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards that there is a whistle blowing policy made known to all staff and carers. The whistle blowing policy and procedures are in addition to, and do not replace, Beacon Fostering’s complaints and other statutory reporting procedures.

The whistle blowing policy and procedures are not an alternative route to the existing procedures in place to enable you to lodge a grievance relating to your own employment.

This policy aims to:

• Encourage you to feel confident in raising serious concerns and to question and act upon concerns about practice.

• Provide avenues for you to raise those concerns and to receive feedback on any actions taken to ensure that you receive a response to your concerns.

• Ensure you are aware of how to pursue your concerns if you are not satisfied.

• Reassure you that you will be protected from possible reprisals or victimisation if you have a reasonable belief that the malpractice disclosed has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur and that the disclosure is in the public interest.

Types of malpractice that might lead to whistle blowing include:

• Conduct which is a criminal offence.

• Disclosures related to miscarriages of justice.

• Health and safety risks, including risks to the public, children, foster carers, as well as other employees.

• Damage to the environment.

• The unauthorised use of agency funds or resources.

• Possible fraud and corruption.

• Sexual, physical or emotional abuse of children or employees, or neglect.

• Other unethical conduct.

Thus, any serious concerns that you have about any aspect of service provision or the conduct of managers or employees of Beacon Fostering, including foster carers or others acting on behalf of Beacon Fostering, can be reported under these procedures. This may be about something that:

• Makes you feel uncomfortable in terms of known standards, your experience or the standards to which you believe Beacon Fostering subscribes.

• Is against Beacon Fostering’s Statement of Purpose or policies.

• Falls below established standards of practice.

• May amount to improper conduct.


Beacon Fostering is committed to good practice and high standards and will be supportive of employees, children and foster carers.

The Agency recognises that the decision to report a concern can be a difficult one to make. If you reasonably believe what you are saying is true, you have nothing to fear because you will be doing your duty to the Agency and those for whom you are providing a service.

The Agency will not tolerate any harassment or victimisation (including informal pressures) and will take immediate and appropriate action to protect you when you raise a concern.

Any investigation into allegations of potential malpractice made will not influence or be influenced by any disciplinary or redundancy procedures that may already affect you.


All concerns will be treated in confidence and your identity will not be revealed to the subject/s of your concern without your prior agreement. Of course, in some instances you may need to come forward as a witness and this will be discussed with you.


This policy encourages you to put your name to your concern/s. Concerns expressed anonymously are much less powerful, but will be considered at the discretion of the Agency.

In exercising this discretion, the factors to be taken into account would include:

• The seriousness of the issues raised.

• The credibility of the concern/s.

• The likelihood of confirming any allegations from attributable sources.


If you make an allegation but it is not confirmed by the investigation, no action will be taken against you. If, however, you make an allegation frivolously, maliciously or for personal gain, appropriate disciplinary action may be taken against you which could include dismissal.


Raising a Concern

As a first step, you should normally raise concerns with your supervising social worker or immediate manager or his/her superior. This depends, however, on the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved and who is suspected of the malpractice. For example, if you believe that management is involved, you should directly approach Simon Williams, Director or the Responsible Individual for the service on 07968 377051 or write to:

Simon Williams, Director, Beacon Fostering Limited, 3000 Aviator Way, Wythenshaw, Manchester, M22 5TG

Alternatively, you may also contact:

• Ofsted, Whistle Blowing Hotline (WBHL), Piccadilly Gate, Store Street, Manchester, M1 2WD; ring on 0300 123 3155 or email

If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome you have the right to express your concerns to the relevant Prescribed Person designated by the Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 2014 or any statute or statutory instrument which subsequently supersedes this legislation.

If you reasonably believe that the relevant failure, as listed in any of the above practices, relates wholly or mainly to the conduct of an individual other than someone in the Agency or any other matter for which a person other than the Agency has legal responsibility, then you should make that disclosure to that other person.

Also, you may make such a disclosure to Protect – – the leading authority on public interest whistleblowing, if you consider that it has an interest in the matter and, despite the best efforts of the Agency, you believe that disclosure within the Agency is inappropriate or as noted previously has been unsuccessful. Disclosures made to legal advisors in the course of obtaining legal advice will be protected.

Concerns may be raised orally or in writing. Staff who wish to make a written report are invited to use the following format:

• About whom or what you are raising the concern.
• The background and history of the concern (giving relevant dates).
• The reason why you are particularly concerned about the situation.
• Details of other persons involved or who are witnesses.

The earlier you express the concern, the easier it is to take action.

Although you are not expected to prove beyond reasonable doubt the truth of an allegation, you will need to demonstrate to the person contacted that there are sufficient grounds for your concern.

You may invite your trade union or professional association representative or someone else who can support and advise you to be present during any meetings or interviews in connection with the concerns you have raised.

How Beacon Fostering will Respond

The Agency will respond to your concerns formally. Within ten working days of a concern being raised, the person with whom you have raised your concern will write to you:

• Acknowledging that the concern has been received.

• Indicating how it is proposed to deal with the matter.

• Giving an estimate of how long it will take to provide a final response.

• Supplying you with information on support mechanisms.

Do not forget that the process of checking the details of your concerns is not the same as either accepting or rejecting them.

Where appropriate, the matters raised may:

• Be investigated by management, internal audit, or through the disciplinary process.

• Be referred to the police.

• Be referred to the external auditor.

• Form the subject of an independent inquiry.

In order to protect individuals and those accused of misdeeds or possible malpractice, initial enquiries will be made to decide whether a formal investigation is appropriate and, if so, what form it should take. The overriding principle which the Agency will have in mind is the public interest and protection of children. Concerns or allegations which fall within the scope of specific procedures (for example, child protection or discrimination issues) will be referred for consideration under those procedures.

Some concerns may be resolved by agreed action without the need for investigation. If urgent action is required, this will be taken before any investigation is conducted.

The amount of contact between the officers considering the issues and you will depend on the nature of the matters raised, the potential difficulties involved, and the clarity of the information provided. If necessary, Beacon Fostering will seek further information from you.

Where any meeting is arranged this can take place off site if you so wish. You can be accompanied by a trade union or professional association representative or someone else who can support and advise you.

Beacon Fostering will take steps to minimise any difficulties which you may experience as a result of raising a concern. For instance, if you are required to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings, the Agency will arrange for you to receive advice and support about the procedure.

Beacon Fostering accepts that you need to be assured that the matter has been properly addressed and you will be informed of the outcome of any investigation.


The Responsible Individual has overall responsibility for the maintenance and operation of this policy, including minor updates/amendments. The Responsible Individual will maintain a record of concerns raised and the outcomes (but in a form which does not endanger your confidentiality) and will report as necessary to the Board of Directors.


Beacon Fostering operates a secure electronic record system for recording electronic files – CHARMS. Secure and bespoke software is used for the system referred to as CHARMS, which is supported by a software provider. This system is used to record all information relating to foster carers and looked after children. Any references in this document to files, records, cases or data would apply to information held on CHARMS.

Where any relevant matter, incident or event relating to Confidential Reporting is relevant to a foster carer or child/young person, this should be recorded on CHARMS as appropriate (subject to confidentiality).

This Confidential Reporting (Whistle Blowing) Policy should be read in conjunction with the following Beacon Fostering policies and procedures:

• Safeguarding Children Policy & Procedures
• Allegations Incidents and Suspicions of Abuse by Staff Policy and Procedures
• Allegations Incidents and Suspicions of Abuse by Foster Carers Policy and Procedures
• Safer Caring Policy
• Conflicts of Interest Policy
• Comments, Compliments and Complaints Procedure
• Statement of Purpose

Please contact us if you should like any copies of the above policies, which are readily available.