What should you do if you suspect fraud or corruption?
Fraud within the public sector costs the taxpayer billions of pounds each year. Detected cases of fraud and corruption are on the increase and all local authorities are likely to be affected in some way by fraudulent or corrupt activity.
This page gives guidance on what you should and should not do if you suspect there is fraud or corruption within the council. If you have any reason to believe that:
- a councillor
- an employee of the council
- a contractor or supplier to the council or
- a member of the public who has dealings with the council
is behaving fraudulently or dishonestly then you can raise your concerns. They will be
taken seriously and if appropriate they will be investigated.
Fraud is the intentional distortion of financial statements or other records for gain or to mislead or misrepresent.
Corruption is the offering or acceptance of an inducement or reward to influence the action of any person or the failure to disclose an interest in order to enjoy financial or other gain.
Acting upon your suspicions
If you suspect that fraud or corruption is being committed there are a few simple guidelines that should be followed.
- Make an immediate note of your concerns. Note all relevant details, such as what was said in telephone or other conversations, the date, the time and the names of the parties involved.
- Convey your suspicions to someone with the appropriate authority and experience. For staff this is usually your manager or Internal Audit, although it could be to any of the people or organisations listed below. For customers this will be the council’s Chief Executive, the Monitoring Officer or the Audit and Risk Manager. Again, any of the contacts below can be used.
- Deal with the matter promptly, if you feel your concerns are warranted. Any delay may cause the council to suffer further financial or reputational loss. Don’t be afraid to act and remember to use the confidential reporting lines if you are worried about revealing your identity.
- Do nothing.
- Be afraid of raising your concerns. Staff will not suffer any recrimination as a result of raising a concern in good faith.
- Approach or accuse any individuals directly. You may have misinterpreted a perfectly genuine situation.
- Try to investigate the matter yourself. There are rules concerning the gathering of evidence for use in criminal cases. Proper investigative procedures must be followed.
- Convey your suspicions to anyone other than those with the proper authority.
If in doubt – raise your concerns.
What is the council doing to deal with fraud and corruption?
The council has in place an Anti Fraud and Corruption Policy and Strategy (PDF) which confirms the council’s total opposition to fraud and corruption of any kind. It also sets out the measures in place to help prevent and detect fraudulent or corrupt acts.
Through the Annual Audit Plan and other monitoring and performance procedures the council will continuously:
- review the effectiveness of internal controls;
- review the arrangements to safeguard the council’s assets;
- assess compliance with agreed policies and procedures;
- advise on financial controls;
- review the reliability of management information;
The council has a Whistleblowing Policy (PDF) and Procedure to enable staff to raise concerns safe in the knowledge that they will not suffer any recrimination as a result.
If you suspect that fraud is being committed and you do not wish to use any of the contacts listed below you can report a suspected fraud online.
If you wish to raise a concern you can do so in complete confidence by contacting any of the following council officers:
- The Chief Executive
- The Monitoring Officer
- The Audit and Risk Manager
- Any senior manager
- A member of Internal Audit - (01926) 456816
If you do not wish to approach the council directly or you need some assistance in raising the matter then any of the following contacts can be used:
- A local councillor
- The council’s external auditors
- Your solicitor
- The police
- Your local MP
- A trade union
Council staff can also use the charity Public Concern At Work or the council’s confidential reporting service In Touch. Again contact details can be provided if necessary.
Remember that if anyone is obtaining public funds through fraud, either nationally or locally, it is coming out of your pocket.