Last reviewed on 24 April 2020
Here at the Co-op we’re committed to carrying out our business in a safe, honest and ethical way. Part of that is creating an open and supportive working environment where colleagues feel able to speak up about any suspected wrongdoing. This Policy details our process for dealing with whistleblowing. This policy applies to all colleagues and anyone working with us.
What is whistleblowing?
Whistleblowing is the term used when a colleague passes on information about wrongdoing. If you’re concerned that any of the things below are happening, have happened or are likely to happen, we encourage you to raise this as soon as possible:
Any bribery, fraud or other criminal offence
- A miscarriage of justice
- A risk to health and safety
- A risk or actual damage to the environment
- A breach of any other legal or professional obligation.
We particularly want our colleagues to report if they have any concerns that modern slavery is taking place within our organisation, the suppliers and agencies we work with, or within our local communities so that these matters can be investigated by the proper authorities.
You don’t need to have any proof that any of these things are happening. As long as you have a reasonable belief, you should report your concerns. But if we find that you’ve knowingly made a false allegation, we may deal with this under the Disciplinary/Misconduct procedure.
Remember, if you’ve got a personal complaint or concern, like about how you’re being treated at work, this isn’t a whistleblowing matter. It would be covered under the Grievance Process – there’s more information in the Grievance Process or the Bullying and Harassment Policy depending on the type of complaint you have. If you have concerns about bullying or harassment we have a confidential colleague helpline that you can contact for advice on 0844 728 0165 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call our Employee Assistance Programme on 0800 069 8854.
Protection for whistleblowing
If you’ve reported a reasonable belief that any of the things above are happening, then don’t worry – we won’t allow you to be treated badly because of it.
If you find out that a colleague has blown the whistle, you must not treat them badly because of it. If we think you might have done, we’ll need to investigate and it may mean disciplinary action against you. And you might also be at risk of being found personally liable for your behaviour.
If you like, we’ll make sure that we take steps to protect your identity, as far as we reasonably can. If you ask us to treat things confidentially we won’t disclose your identity without your consent, unless we have to in order to look into your complaint or if it’s required by law.
Blowing the whistle
If you need to raise a concern, here’s how you can go about doing it:
- Your manager
You can raise the issue with your line manager. But if your line manager’s involved in the activity you have concerns about, or you don’t feel able to speak to them, talk to another manager instead.
You can raise things either in person or write them a letter. Your letter needs to include what your concern is, why you think it’s true and any other details you can give us. Remember to include your contact details. We may need to get in touch to talk about your concerns or to get some more details.
You can raise your concerns anonymously if you like and we’ll take these seriously. But it may be difficult for us to do a proper investigation if we can’t talk to you about other information we might need.
- Other internal contacts
If you feel like you can’t raise the matter with a manager in your team or business area, you can contact any of the following Co-op senior managers:
Helen Webb, Chief People Officer 07920 089 285 email@example.com
Andrew Lang, Chief Risk Officer 07912 566 450 firstname.lastname@example.org
Neil Southworth, Chief Risk Officer (Co-op Insurance) 07894 787 910 email@example.com
Saleem Chowdhery, Director of Internal Audit 07834 446 740 firstname.lastname@example.org
Leigh Wylie, Head of Internal Audit (Co-op Insurance) 07776 203 554 email@example.com
Steven Martin, Head of Legal Practice Compliance (Co-op Legal Services) 07812 462 494 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamie O'Brien, Regulatory Risk Manager (CISL - Co-op Insurance Services Ltd) 07966 289 012 email@example.com
Dominic Kendal-Ward, General Counsel - Funerals, Insurance and Deputy Security 07779 313 302 firstname.lastname@example.org
If you feel that you can’t raise your concern with any of the people listed above, or if you have but still have got concerns, you can contact our “Speak Up” service 24/7 by calling Safecall on 0800 915 1571 or online via www.safecall.co.uk/coop
“Speak up” is an anonymous, free and confidential service operated by Safecall. It’s a completely independent organisation with staff trained to handle whistleblowing calls. Your call won’t be traced or recorded.
Safecall will pass all of the information you give during the call, apart from your name if you wish, to the Internal Audit team for them, who will make sure your concern is looked into thoroughly and independently.
Safecall is not a replacement for the emergency services, so if you have an urgent concern please contact the relevant emergency service.
- Relevant authorities
We’d really like you to raise any concerns internally first, to give us the chance to look into things. But you do have the option of reporting the matter to the Relevant Authority.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) provide whistleblowing services for concerns about financial services organisations. Their details are below:
Financial Conduct Authority 020 7066 9200 during office hours or leave a voicemail email@example.com Intelligence Department (Ref PIDA), Financial Conduct Authority, 25 The North Colonnade, London, E14 5HS
Prudential Regulation Authority 020 3461 8703 PRAwhistleblowing@bankofengland.co.uk
The Solicitors Regulation Authority provides whistleblowing services for concerns about legal services organisations. Their details are:
- The Cube, 199 Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1RN firstname.lastname@example.org,
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) provides whistleblowing services for concerns about pharmacy services and pharmacy professionals. Their details are:
- General Pharmaceutical Council 020 3713 8000 or visit www.pharmacyregulation.org/content/our-role or write to The General Pharmaceutical Council, 25 Canada Square, London, E14 5LQ
Depending on the type of concern you have, there are also other public bodies you can contact, such as: HM Revenue and Customs
- Competition and Markets Authority
- Health and Safety Executive
- Environment Agency
- Director of Public Prosecutions
- Serious Fraud Office
- NHS England
- NHS Counter Fraud Authority
Just to remind you that it will very rarely, if ever, be appropriate to raise a whistleblowing concern directly to the media. And you should never tell the media about any concern that you’ve already raised which is being investigated.
Things to think about
Just so you know, because we need to keep things confidential, we may not be able to tell you about any investigation we do or action we take about the issue you’ve told us about. But wherever we can, we’ll try to let you know the outcome. We trust that you’ll treat any information we do give you as confidential.
If you need further support
If you have any further questions about whistleblowing, speak to your manager. If managers receive information about a whistleblowing concern they can contact ER Services.
Also check out the Co-op Whistleblowing Process.
Remember that further support is available from your Trade Union if you’re a member, or from the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). You can contact the EAP in confidence on 0800 069 8854. It's independent and totally confidential. And there's no charge for Co-op colleagues.