Whistle blowing is making the news again with officers, past and present, of the Metropolitan police giving evidence at the Commons public administration committee that crime figures have been manipulated to account for lower crime rates than were actually true.
This is not the first time whistle blowing has made headlines, after Julie Bailey exposed the rampant neglect at Mid Staffordshire hospital that had led to hundreds of unnecessary deaths. Whilst Bailey’s revelation led to a public inquiry report damning the lack of “care, compassion, humanity and leadership” at the hospital, she unfortunately suffered a backlash that saw her being bombarded by hate mail and her mother’s grave vandalised.
Although Bailey’s whistle blowing has led to significant changes in the NHS which would see gross neglect of patients become a criminal offence, her quest to seek greater protection for whistle blowers by prosecuting Managers who ignored or silenced them was unsuccessful.
This protection seems ever more warranted after officers at the Metropolitan Police claiming that those who attempted to come forward about the manipulation of crime figures were treated unfairly and often persecuted. Peter Barron told the committee that whistle blowers were “marginalised” and “judged not to be a team player.”
Another officer, PC Patrick, was also ordered after whistle blowing “not to have contact with the public, external agencies or stakeholders.” Karen Todner, his lawyer, said “He is a whistleblower and what this is about is freedom of expression. This is someone who has tried to raise his concerns through the legitimate channels but was not able to do so.”
In both cases it would appear that the whistleblowers involved had suffered to their detriment when speaking out against practices they felt endangered the public. Patrick notes that there were “serious consequences” of maintaining the status quo. Perhaps Bailey is correct in demanding better protection for whistle blowers if the consequence of failing to do so allows malpractice to go unchecked.
Should you wish to ensure your business has a Whistle blowing Policy that sets out your company’s guidelines and methods in relation to this please see the one available on our website for further guidance.