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University makes it easier to raise concerns at work

Karen Blackman

The University has recently updated its process for helping staff and students raise concerns at the University. Serious concerns at the University are fortunately rare, and the new procedure is aimed at making it as easy as possible for a member of the community to report something should a serious University issue arise. We spoke to the University’s Information Manager, Karen Blackman, to find out more.

How have things been improved?

When we revised the existing whistleblowing policy - now known as the Public Interest Disclosure Policy - a little over a year ago, we also decided to review the associated process for raising concerns to ensure that the process was made more accessible and more transparent. We now have an online reporting form, which we hope makes the reporting process much easier.

Why is it important for staff to know about this new process?

The Raising Concerns process relates specifically to the reporting of extremely serious matters, so it is important for everyone to know how to report their concerns so they can be investigated accordingly.

What types of behaviour is this policy most likely to apply to in practice?

The Public Interest Disclosure Policy and Raising Concerns process relate to serious concerns of a public interest, such as fraud, bribery, criminal activity, damage to the environment, and serious threats to health and safety. The policy outlines all of the areas it covers in full, so it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with it.

What if you’re not sure whether your concerns meet the criteria or not?

The Public Interest Disclosure Policy outlines everything that is covered by this policy and process, and gives an indication of the types of matters that would be dealt with via other existing University procedures – but please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’ve got a concern and you’re not sure if it should be raised via the Raising Concerns process. You can call me on 01273 873393 or email: K.Blackman@sussex.ac.uk.

Do students follow the same process as staff?

Yes, the Raising Concerns process can be used by both students and staff to report these types of issues.

Are people able to report issues confidentially through this process?

We can’t accept anonymous reports, but we want to stress that the Public Disclosure Act 1998 (on which the University’s policy is based) and the University guarantee significant protection for anyone who discloses information through this process. The policy and process also offer options for seeking external advice from Public Concern at Work.

There are sometimes stories in the news about whistleblowers’ identities being revealed, which can then prove detrimental to their career. What safeguards are in place to prevent this at Sussex?

Our Public Interest Disclosure Policy ensures that anyone attempting to threaten or retaliate against those raising concerns will be subject to disciplinary action, and we will make every effort to ensure that the identity of anyone raising a concern through the process is kept confidential. Protection is also guaranteed through legislation.

The University wants to encourage openness and will support all staff and students who raise genuine concerns in good faith, even if they turn out to be mistaken, and guarantee that they will not suffer any detrimental treatment as a result.

Where can people get more information and who can they speak to?

The Public Interest Disclosure Policy and the Raising Concerns process, as well as a link to the online reporting form, can be found on the University’s Raising Concerns page. Any questions can be directed to me on 01273 873393 or email: K.Blackman@sussex.ac.uk.


By: Sean Armstrong
Last updated: Friday, 1 March 2019

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