Whistleblowing and foster carers


Foster carers in their work with looked after children and social work staff may come to realise that there might be something seriously wrong within the Council. Such concerns may not appear to come under the Complaints Procedure which is normally used to complain about unfair processes or inappropriate behaviour by staff. Foster carers may not express concerns because they feel that speaking up would be disloyal to the staff supporting them, or to the Council. They may also fear harassment, victimisation or that the future placement of children with them could be jeopardised. In these circumstances it may be easier to ignore the concern rather than report what may be just a suspicion of malpractice.

The Council is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, honesty and accountability. In line with that commitment foster carers are encouraged to voice any serious concerns they may have about any aspect of the Council’s work. This Whistleblowing Policy is intended to encourage and enable foster carers to raise such concerns within the Council confidentially or openly, without fear of reprisals.

This policy has been discussed with the Fostering Network at national and local level and has their support.

Aims and scope of this policy

This policy aims to:

  • provide avenues for you to raise concerns and receive feedback on any action taken
  • allow you to take the matter further if you are dissatisfied with the Council’s response, and
  • reassure you that you will be protected from reprisals or victimisation for whistleblowing in good faith.

There is an existing Complaints Procedure, a Looked After Care review system and there are Child Protection Procedures all of which enable you to make complaints about inappropriate staff behaviour towards you and raise issues about a child or children placed with you. This whistleblowing policy is intended to cover concerns that fall outside the scope of these procedures.

That concern may be about something that:

  • is unlawful or illegal; or
  • is a breach of a legal duty owed by the Council; or
  • is a miscarriage of justice; or
  • against the Council’s policies
  • falls below established standards or practice or
  • amounts to improper conduct; or
  • endangers the health and safety of any person; or
  • attempts to conceal any of the above.


Harassment or victimisation

The Council recognises that the decision to report a concern can be a difficult one to make, not least because of the fear of reprisal from those responsible for the malpractice. The Council will not tolerate harassment, bullying or victimisation and will take action to protect you when you raise a concern in good faith.

This does not mean that if you are already the subject of investigation regarding allegations concerning child protection or standards of care, that those procedures will be halted as a result of your whistleblowing.


Initially, confidentiality can be guaranteed and the Council will do its best to protect your identity throughout any investigation (when you raise a concern and do not want your name to be disclosed). It must be appreciated however that the investigation process may reveal the source of the information and a statement by you may be required as part of the evidence.

Anonymous allegations

This policy encourages you to put your name to your allegation. Concerns expressed anonymously are much less powerful, but they will be considered at the discretion of the Council.

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

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

Untrue allegations

If you make an allegation in good faith, but it is not confirmed by the investigation, no action will be taken against you. If, however, you make malicious or vexatious allegations, a review of your approval as a carer may occur.

How to raise a concern

As a first step, you should normally raise concerns with your supervising social worker or their manager. This depends, however, on the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved and who is thought to be involved in the malpractice. If you consider it inappropriate to raise concerns with these support staff, you may choose to raise concerns with senior management instead.

Concerns are better raised in writing. You are invited to set out the background and history of the concern, giving names, dates and places where possible, and the reason why you are particularly concerned about the situation. If you do not feel able to put your concern in writing, you can telephone or meet the appropriate officer. The appropriate officer will either read to you or show you the written record of your conversation so that you may confirm that the details of your concern are fully and properly recorded.

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

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

You may invite the Fostering Network to raise a matter on your behalf, who can be contacted at

87 Blackfriars Road,
SE1 8HA.

Tel: 020 7620 6400

How the council will respond

The action taken by the Council will depend on the nature of the concern. The matters raised may:

  • be investigated internally
  • be referred to the Police
  • be referred to the external Auditor
  • be referred to the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) inspectorate
  • form the subject of an independent inquiry.

In order to protect individuals and the Council, initial enquiries will be made to decide whether an investigation is appropriate. Concerns or allegations which fall within the scope of specific procedures (for example, child protection) will normally be referred for consideration under those procedures.

Some concerns may be resolved by agreed action without the need for investigation.

Within ten working days of a concern being received, the Council will write to you:

  • acknowledging that the concern has been received
  • indicating how it proposes to deal with the matter
  • giving an estimate of how long it will take to provide a final response
  • telling you whether any initial enquiries have been made and
  • telling you whether further investigations will take place, and if not, why not.

The amount of any contact between the person 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, further information will be sought from you.

When any meeting is arranged, you have the right if you so wish to be accompanied by a Fostering Network representative or a friend who is not involved in the area of work to which the concern relates.

The Council 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 Council will advise you about the procedure.

The Council accepts that you need to be assured that the matter has been properly addressed. Therefore, subject to legal constraints, you will receive information about the outcomes of any investigations.

How the matter can be taken further

This policy is intended to provide you with an avenue to raise concerns within the Council. The Council hopes you will be satisfied. If you are not, and if you feel it is right to take the matter outside the Council, the following are possible contact points:

  • your local councillor (if you live in Brighton and Hove)
  • the Fostering Network
  • the external auditor
  • your solicitor
  • the Police.

If you do take the matter outside the Council, you need to ensure that you do not disclose confidential information. Check with your contact point within the Council before speaking to any person or organisation outside of the Council about what information you cannot disclose because of its confidentiality.





Like this site?

Like us on Facebook!



Text Size