Whistleblowing isn’t easy. We know that. Protect has been advising whistleblowers how to safely raise concerns for the past 25 years through our confidential advice line. In that time, our trained advisers have handled more than 40,000 whistleblowing cases.
Calls to our advice line from people wanting advice on how to raise a concern from the third sector has risen year-on-year from 168 calls in 2016, 241 in 2017, and 303 calls last year. We are fully expecting 2019 to see a further rise in calls. The most common concern is financial malpractice within a charity.
The third sector is, of course, vast with 168,000 registered charities in England and Wales, varying in size, governance and speciality. Not all will be well run and like any organisation, risks, malpractice and dangers will be prevalent.
At the beginning of June, we launched a six-month advice pilot with the Charity Commission to support charity workers and volunteers. What this means is that if a worker or volunteer has concerns over wrongdoing at the charity they work or volunteer for and want independent advice on how to raise it effectively, they can call Protect. If appropriate, our Protect advisers can discuss whether it is a regulatory matter for the Charity Commission.
Charity Commission Chief Executive Helen Stephenson said, “We are pleased to be working with Protect to pilot this important service that will help people report serious concerns about charities to us. The helpline is a key part of wider improvements to our support to people that make the brave decision to report wrongdoing. Blowing the whistle takes courage and integrity, and I expect the additional advice that Protect will offer to equip people with valuable confidence and clarity about how best to proceed.”
We hope the pilot will go some way to making whistleblowing for charity staff and volunteers that bit easier and send out a much needed message of support.
And finally, Protect would like to reassure all third sector staff and volunteers that a call to our advice line is confidential, protected by legal privilege and handled by a specially trained adviser.
The Protect Advice line operates Monday- Friday between 9-6pm on Freephone 0800 055 7214
By Interim Chief Executive Jon Cunningham